Sunday, September 9, 2018

Celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross with Kids

It's no secret that my family likes to celebrate the liturgical year in our domestic church - and sometimes out and about with friends.


Last year, we did both for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14th.  We enjoyed a simple meal at home and an easy, yet engaging, nature hide-n-seek game outside with friends.

Enjoy a Simple Symbolic Meal for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

In the morning I put together a simple symbolic meal for breakfast, which we lingered over chatting about the history of the feast day, the meaning of the cross, and more.  

We also read related excerpts and stories from Saints: Lives and Illuminations and Angel Food for Boys & Girls, Volume IV.

For our meal, I knew I wanted three symbolic things:

  • red foods and drink to remind us of God's sacrificial love for us.  
  • basil because tradition holds that sweet basil grew over the hill where St. Helena found Holy Cross and in Greece the faithful are given sprigs of basil by the priest. 
  • something that could be made into the shape of a cross that could be taken apart.

Looking at what I had in our cupboards and fridge, I ended up serving red juice (for Jesus' blood shed on the cross for us)...

...cherries (to remind us of Jesus' heart), salad greens (to remind us of the hill where the True Cross was found by St. Helena) and eggs with basil (the eggs to remind us of our new life through Jesus Christ since eggs are a symbol of new life and the basil to remind us of traditions for this feast day)....

...apples (which continued the red symbolism but also hearkened back to original sin and Jesus' triumph over sin),and toast put into a cross shape (which we could take parts of, much like people took parts of the True cross).

We also decorated with a red cloth (again, symbolic of sacrificial love), a globe with a crucifix atop it (because the cross of triumph is usually pictured as a globe with a cross on top to remind us of the triumph of our Savior over the sun of the world)...

... and an image of Jesus overlaid on the cross (to remind us of how the cross - once an instrument of torture and death - became the instrument of our salvation through Jesus' death and resurrection).

Enact St. Helen Finding the True Cross by Playing a Nature Cross Hide-n-Seek Game

Later in the day, friends met us at a local park where we continued our fun and learning.  

There, I set up a blanket with a few candles, a globe, a cross, and a copy of Story Library of the Saints.  

Then, after praying and chatting with the children about the Exaltation of the Holy Cross a bit, I challenged them to go find natural materials that they could make a cross with while I read them the story of Helen of the Cross from the Story Library of the Saints.

After that, I marked one cross with red - as our "True Cross", then, had the children take turns hiding that cross and two others...

while the other children hid their eyes...

...then went our to seek the "True Cross" just like St. Helen did.

We played round after round of our this easy Exaltation of the Holy Cross hide-n-seek game, enjoying ourselves so much!

It's such an easy game to prep and play, reminds children of the story of the cross, and gets them up and moving, too.

I encourage you to try it!

If you're looking for other ideas, you might enjoy:

Celebrate the Memorial of the Exaltation of the Cross with Food, Reading, and More!

Have a wonderful Exaltation of the Holy Cross Day!

O God, who willed that your Only Begotten Son should undergo the Cross to save the human race, grant, we pray, that we, who have known his mystery on earth, may merit the grace of his redemption in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


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