Palm Sunday has been called at least five different names, each highlighting a different aspect of this day.
Palm Sunday is beautiful opening to Holy Week and is a day of joy mixed with sorrow. While most call this day “Palm Sunday,” it is also called by at least four other names.
One of the most popular names for this day is Palm Sunday. It is a name that refers to the custom of holding palm branches during the liturgy, commemorating the event of Jesus entering Jerusalem before his final arrest and crucifixion.
A similar name to Palm Sunday, Hosanna Sunday refers to the acclamation “Hosanna in the highest” with which the people of Jerusalem greeted Jesus when he rode triumphantly on a donkey into the city.
According to Dom Prosper Gueranger in his Liturgical Year, “Our forefathers used also to call it Pascha Floridum, because the Feast of the Pasch or Easter which is but eight days off, is today in bud, so to speak and the Faithful could begin from this Sunday to fulfill the precept of Easter Communion.”
Another unique name for this day is “Capitilavium,” which Gueranger explains.
We also find the name of Capitilavium given to this Sunday, because during those times when it was the custom to defer till Holy Saturday the baptism of infants born during the preceding months, where such a delay entailed no danger, the parents used on this day to wash the heads of these children out of respect to the Holy Chrism wherewith they were to be anointed later on this Sunday.
5Pasch of the Competents
Gueranger explains another ancient name, which refers to the catechumens who were preparing for Baptism at the Easter Vigil.
Later on this Sunday was, at least in some Churches, called the Pasch of the Competents, that is of the Catechumens who were admitted to Baptism. They assembled today in the Church and received a special instruction on the Symbol [the Creed], which had been given to them in the previous scrutiny. In the Gothic Church of Spain the Symbol was not given till today.