The first existing document concerning Palm Sunday dates from 1371 and is preserved at Elche’s Municipal Archives; it was drawn up by the then authority known as the Consejo Municipal; in it, arrangements are made to bestow a sum of money for the Palm Sunday celebrations as well as for the processions on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday following this holy feast day.
Similarly, in another municipal archive document dated March 21, 1429, account is given of the arrest of Elche citizens who sold white palms in Valencia.
The Palm Sunday Procession was declared of International Tourist Interest on July 22, 1997.
The liturgy of the procession of palms on Palm Sunday has its origins in the triumphant entry into the holy city of Jerusalem by Jesus Christ. This tradition of Jerusalem spread throughout the Western World thanks to the pilgrims returning to Europe after visiting the Holy City. During the middle ages, this procession became increasingly more significant among the faithful; it got to the point that the Blessing of the Palms became the focus of the religious festivity. A similar phenomenon took place in medieval Elche around the time that white palms were first introduced in the palm procession.
Together with the blessing of the palms, a custom began in the form of hanging the blessed palms from the balconies of houses and this practice spread to the West in the middle ages. Elche is one of those places where the tradition has endured; it symbolises the protection of the household by virtue of the palm that has been placed.
Another extraordinary fact is the “white palm market known as Mercado de Palma Blanca” that is active a few days before Palm Sunday; trading takes place in the various markets of the city.
35,000 people took part in the 2009 procession. Each participant bore their own white palm.
Of tourist and national interest