Palm crosses are very meaningful during Palm Sunday. This because they are made of palm branches that were used by people to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem as he rode on a donkey. Palm branches and palm crosses help us to observe this momentous day. Palm Sunday marks the start of the Christian Holy Week. This day celebrates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a step closer to fulfilling God’s plan. As he rode into the city, a large crowd gathered in front of him. They laid their cloaks and waved palm branches as a sign of respect. Over the years, palm fronds became a part of Palm Sunday celebrations. After the service, the people can return these back to the church to burn for the next year’s Ash Wednesday. However, they can also keep these branches and make palm crosses. Turn your fronds into a sacred symbol for your household as you learn the steps on how to make a palm cross.
Palm Cross: An Important Symbol in Christianity
Before we proceed with the steps on how to make a palm cross, we should first understand its value. A palm branch is widely recognized as a symbol of peace and victory. It also represents the victory of all the martyrs – the victory of the spirit over the flesh. They associated these palm branches with Jesus’s entry in Jerusalem (John 12:13). A multitude of people took out palm branches, waved, and laid on the road to welcome him. Also, in the fourteenth century, the coins issued under Roman Emperor Constantine’s era display palm leaves victory. Interestingly, in 1688, the church found palm image carved on tombs they discovered in the Roman catacombs. They interpreted that it symbolized a martyr was buried there.
Today, churches use palm leaves every Palm Sunday to commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice. They give it to the people participating in observing Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It is a day for us to remember Jesus’ death and praise him for our salvation. It also leads us to anticipate his resurrection a week later at Easter. This shows Jesus victory over death and gives us hope of eternal life. Many people give more meaning to the palm leaf by forming it into the shape of a cross. It represents the ultimate victory of Jesus was his sacrifice.
Other Beliefs About Palm Cross
Aside from traditional beliefs, having a palm leaf or palm cross serves another purpose. One of the old traditions is burning a blessed palm cross in times of forthcoming natural disasters. It means asking God to avert or lessen the approaching disaster, such as hurricanes or tornadoes. Palm crosses can also help protect the house against fires. However, an instruction from Directory on Popular Piety explains why this practice is not encouraged. Palm branches or any other alternatives shouldn’t be kept as amulets or an instrument for healing. It is not a magical reason to cast out evil spirits nor to prevent the damage in the fields or the home. Thus, taking part in the procession or the Palm Sunday activity is not only to get a palm branch but to celebrate the sole reason for this day.
In some churches, each person receives a palm cross to wear on their coats or clothing during the Holy Week. Keeping palm branches in our house reminds us of Jesus’ passion and following in his footsteps to carry the crosses in our lives.
Steps on How to Make a Palm Cross
Making a palm cross is a perfect way to begin the celebration of Holy Week. It makes the palm branches more symbolic. You can learn all these simple and easy-to-follow steps on how to make a palm cross for your household.
To make a palm cross, you’ll need a long strip of a palm branch. It is better if the size is approximately 14-inches. Take note it works best with fresh, green palms that are easy to bend. But if the palm fronds are too dry, you can simply put water for a few days before making the palm cross. If the palm branch is folded over on itself, gently tear the two halves of the palm frond apart. Also, remove any extra strings. It will make your palm cross easier to fold.
Fold the long strip of a palm frond into half. One side should be longer than the other. The length of the short side will become the length of the completed cross. Be careful to keep the fold loose or rounded. Do not squish it.
Flip the palm leaf, so the long side of the palm is facing you. Fold the long side at a 90-degree angle to the right to start the first arm. This will make the left arm of the cross once you flip it over.
For the second arm, fold the long side of the palm frond back the other way. Bend it at the length that will match the length of the other arm. Make sure to wrap it around in front of your palm cross. You can go in a big circle around the vertical part to create both arms.
Continue to fold the long side of the palm around the vertical section of the cross to have two arms. Both arms are doubled up, and the extra length overlaps the first arm you made.
Start securing the palm cross by folding the extra length up at a 45-degree angle. Bend the extra length up and to the right at a 45-degree angle. It goes right in between the top of the vertical section and the first arm.
Now, fold the excess section of the palm diagonally down across the front of the palm cross. It will look like a sash. Then, fold the end up parallel to the arms of the palm cross.
Fold it across the back again at another 45-degree angle. It will also go diagonally across the front of the palm cross. This time it will go from bottom to top.
Take the tail end of the palm. Thread it under the small piece in the back.
Tuck the tail around that same piece until you can’t tuck it any further. You can either go top-down or bottom-up, whichever is easiest for you, depending on how much palm frond left. This will hold the shape of the palm cross.
Flip your palm cross around. You’ll see that you’ve secured the cross with x-shape in front. And you’re done! You already learn how to create a palm cross.
You can also watch this video on how to make a Palm Cross:
To Dispose a Palm Cross or Branch
After learning how to make a palm, it is also important to know how to dispose of a palm cross or frond after Easter. The church considers blessed palm branches as sacramentals. It is one of the sacred signs instituted by the church. Therefore, these should be treated with respect and not to be simply thrown away. Palms may only be burned or buried. However, some may return these palm branches or palm crosses to the church, which the church will then burn to use for the next Ash Wednesday.
A Palm Cross for Holy Week
Making a palm cross became a tradition to commemorate the Holy Week in many churches. It reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice to save us from our sins. We can create this simple yet meaningful craft with our family as we learn the deep meaning of these palm branches. God loves us unconditionally. And, he doesn’t want us to live in a chaotic and sinful world. Thus he gave his one and only son, Jesus Christ, for our salvation. Jesus came into the world to bring peace, love, and hope into our hearts. He gave us hope and victory when he died on the cross and rose again from the dead. Holy Week is a time where we can recall the ultimate foundation of our faith. As we celebrate this momentous season, let’s concentrate on deepening and strengthening our faith in God.