WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Christians across Westchester County are celebrating Palm Sunday this weekend, ushering in Holy Week and leading up to Easter.
On Palm Sunday, most Christian churches bless and hand out palm fronds to their congregations and do readings on the triumphant return of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem just before his crucifixion. According to the Bible's New Testament, Jesus rode a donkey into the city, and the celebrating people put cloaks and palm fronds on the ground before him to honor him.
On Palm Sunday, Katonah United Methodist Church and First Presbyterian Church of Katonah will join other churches in the village in gathering at 9:30 a.m. at the old train station (now Pepino’s Restaurant) for the annual ecumenical blessing of the palms and procession through the village.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, the Knights of Columbus Peekskill Council 462 will commemorate the start of Holy Week by reliving the steps Jesus took in every station to the cross on Calvary. The event will be led by the Rev. Vernon P. Wickrematunge at Assumption Cemetery at 1055 Oregon Road, Cortlandt Manor. All are welcome. Call 914-266-0462 for more information.
Other religious events this week include Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Christ's Last Supper with his apostles. Traditional rituals include a washing of the feet at services. At 6:30 pm, Katonah United Methodist Church, 5 Bedford Road, will hold its annual Agape Meal (Love Feast) and Service of the Shadows commemorating the Last Supper and Christ’s death.
The first part of the service is a convivial potluck supper of simple finger foods with beverages are provided. After the supper, the church enacts a symbolic hand washing and moves into the dramatic telling of the Passion story. Attendees are asked to bring food contribution in ready-to-eat, bite-sized pieces on serving plates. For more information or to volunteer to help, call 914-232-4094.
On Good Friday, Christians remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The Stations of the Cross will be prayed at noon inside the Church of the Assumption, 131 Union Ave., Peekskill. At 1 p.m., the Live Stations of the Cross will be done in Spanish in Depew Park in Peekskill with the Rev. Vincent Druding. Call 914-737-2071 for more information.
Holy Saturday marks the day Christ's body was laid to rest. Easter Vigil services also take place after sundown. Easter Sunday celebrates the Christian belief that Christ rose from the dead after his crucifixion.
Many churches save and collect palm fronds from Palm Sunday for next year to burn to make ashes for Ash Wednesday, the start of the next Lenten season.