Diocesan News

The Proper Way to Dispose of Palms

Woven palms, one in the shape of a cross with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, are seen outside Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Houston before a 2019 Palm Sunday Mass. Catholic churches around the world are now confronted with what to do with the palms they’ve procured, now that most public Palm Sunday Masses have been canceled amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (Photo: CNS/James Ramos, Texas Catholic Herald)

Many Catholics wonder what to do with old palms after Palm Sunday. Under Canon Law, palms that have been blessed by a priest are considered sacramental objects and, therefore, must be treated with respect.

One thing that is strictly prohibited is tossing them in the trash. Here are the ways to properly dispose of them: 

They can be brought back to a church: Check with your parish to see if it collects the palms (not all churches accept them), which are later burned and turned into ashes to be used on Ash Wednesday the following year.

Keep and display as a holy item: It is permissible to use them as decorative objects in the home, as long as they are used in a religious manner, such as placing them next to a crucifix or behind a religious painting.

Properly dispose of them: Old palms can be buried or burned. If burned, the ashes can then be buried or spread on the ground. To burn palms, place them in a heat-proof container on dirt or cement. After letting them cool, they can be put in or on the ground.