Happy Palm Sunday! Here Are Some Holiday-Oriented Foods to Enjoy

Chris Barilla - Author

Apr. 8 2022, Updated 3:58 p.m. ET

Palm Sunday palms
Source: Getty Images

It's that time of year again! Palm Sunday is upon us, and the world over, Christians are preparing to celebrate one of the most significant days of Lent and of the entire holy calendar. Marking the last Sunday before Easter, Palm Sunday is a special time that sees worshippers reflect on Jesus's journey to Jerusalem when his followers laid palm leaves in his path.

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Like most other significant days of worship in Christianity, there are certain food traditions linked to the celebration of Palm Sunday. So, what foods are acceptable to be eaten on Palm Sunday? Keep reading to find out.

Pope Francis at Palm Sunday mass
Source: Getty Images
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What kinds of food are eaten on Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday is a significant date in the Lent period of the Christian calendar. Lent overall carries some pretty specific food restrictions of its own. The most famous one that many worshippers abide by to this day is that on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all other Fridays during Lent, people over the age of 14 abstain from eating meat (aside from fish). The foods that are allowed on Fridays during Lent include eggs, milk, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

If it may seem a little difficult to think of tasty dishes that fit into those constraints, don't fret. There are a solid handful of traditional Palm Sunday dishes from around the world that stick to the religious code while still being downright delicious.

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Palm Sunday mass
Source: Getty Images

1. Spanish Sunday licorice water

This Palm Sunday tradition comes to you courtesy of the good folks over in England. There, it is a tradition to mix well water with licorice from Spain, resulting in the nation's lesser-used nickname for Palm Sunday: Spanish Sunday.

Per Sacred Wells: A Study in the History, Meaning, and Mythology of Holy Wells by Gary Varner, licorice and well water have been intertwined in England since at least the 1700s in religion, but likely also extend back thousands of years to when wells were first used.

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2. Fried salt cod

The next Palm Sunday dish to drool over hails from Greece and fits perfectly in with the overall Lent dietary restrictions. Called bakaliaros, or fried salt cod, the dish is a traditional meal served amongst Orthodox Christians in the area. A symbol of a fish is often used in imagery related to Palm Sunday and Lent in general, so Greek people's decision to celebrate this holy feast by eating some isn't far-fetched at all.

3. Pax cakes

Eating pax cakes is a tradition straight out of Middle Ages England and comes directly from the church. After Palm Sunday mass, priests would hand out the small biscuits which were printed with the image of a lamb and a flag. The word "pax" means peace in Latin, and although the practice has largely been abandoned, that shouldn't stop you from whipping up your own version!

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Vatican Palm Sunday celebration
Source: Getty Images

4. Split pea soup

It seems as though England takes the crown for most foods associated with Palm Sunday. In Northern England and Scotland, many parishioners enjoy a hearty bowl of split pea soup on the sacred day, which stems from the ancient tradition of placing a hard pea in one's shoe while walking around for penance during Lent.

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5. Figs

If there is one fruit that has become wholly associated with Palm Sunday, it's figs. The tiny morsels are actually found in the Bible when Jesus cursed a fruitless fig tree outside of Bethany during Passion Week. When he later arrived in Jerusalem, he finally was able to get himself some figs. Thanks to that story, figs have become the number one fruit linked to Palm Sunday and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways such as whole, turned into pudding, or baked into cookies.

A painting of a fig tree
Source: Getty Images
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6. Hearts of palm

Well, it is called Palm Sunday, after all! Aside from the pieces of palm leaves handed out and shaped into crosses by churches worldwide on the holiday, another way to really get your palm on this Palm Sunday is by including hearts of palm as a garnish or side dish with whatever your meal is. They can be seared, roasted, or even just thrown into a salad.

With all of those wonderful traditional food options and more, you'd be hard-pressed to not find something new and exciting to try this year on Palm Sunday. Happy celebrating!

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