What do you do with your palm leaves from Palm Sunday? In our family, we do some palm weaving and make crosses out of them!
Blessed palms from church are sacramentals – “sacred signs instituted by the Church” (CCC 1667). Jesus was hailed as King as he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Displaying these crosses in our homes is meant to remind us that He is our King and King of our homes.
We usually make two different kinds of palm crosses.
The first one is known as a thumb-tack cross and isn’t really woven at all. People made these years ago. They are just simply two pieces of palm crossed with a thumbtack placed at the intersection to hold them on the wall.
Farmers used them on barns and stables because they believed that the blessed palms placed there would keep the buildings of their livelihoods safe from fire and other natural disasters. We usually place these on our bedroom doors or the wall just outside our rooms.
These crosses made from palm leaves are not to be used for superstitious purposes. They are to remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us and the blessings we receive because of His resurrection and His presence in our lives.
The second type of palm cross is the type I used to make each year with my students.
Begin by cutting a piece of palm leaf about 12 inches long and fold it in half. Cut another one about 8 inches long. Fold each end in towards the middle. This forms the crossbeam. Place it on top of the vertical one. Secure this with a staple or piece of tape or something similar to hold it in place while you finish it.
To finish off the palm weaving cross:
Cut another piece of palm. I usually cut it in half lengthwise to make a thinner strip and wrap a piece of this around the intersection of the cross in an X fashion. I think this makes for a nice finish to the cross.
Some people staple this to hold it in place, but I don’t like for the staple to show. Tape doesn’t hold long-term. One way to hold it together is to use a glue gun and put a dab of glue on the back to hold it. Last year I used a piece of string, wrapped in the same X fashion, and tied in the back to keep it there. I liked the look of the string with the palm.
Making palm crosses without string or glue:
I have seen a method where they didn’t use string or glue or anything of the sort. They wove and tucked the ends back into the palm cross and it held its shape as is. Maybe I’ll give that method a try this year!
Next year for Ash Wednesday, we will return our palm crosses to the church to be burnt in preparation for a new season of Lent. As sacramentals, they need to be disposed of respectfully. If they can’t be burnt, they should be buried.
A simple Palm Sunday prayer service
Once your family brings home their palms from Church, you could gather together for a simple prayer service. Read one of the accounts of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday: Luke 19:28-40, Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-10, or John 12:12-16.
Make your palm crosses as a family. Light a candle and lead a procession through your house, placing the crosses where desired. Sing Lift High the Cross.
You can also consider wearing your cross. Pin it to your clothing and wear it throughout Holy Week.