In Italy, palm leaves are used along with small olive branches, readily available in the Mediterranean climate. These are placed at house entrances (for instance, hanging above the door) to last until the following year’s Palm Sunday.
For this reason, usually palm leaves are not used whole, due to their size; instead, leaf strips are braided into smaller shapes. Small olive branches are also often used to decorate traditional Easter cakes, along with other symbols of birth, like eggs.
Palm Sunday, or the “Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem” as it may be called in Orthodox Churches, is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the liturgical year. The day before Palm Sunday, Lazarus Saturday, believers often prepare palm fronds by knotting them into crosses in preparation for the procession on Sunday. The hangings and vestments in the church are changed to a festive color.
In the accounts of the four canonical Gospels, Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem takes place a week before his Resurrection. Only the Gospel of John shows a timeline of the event, dated six days before the Passover (John 12:1).