“Flowering the Easter Cross” – A Creative Family Tradition
During Easter and Sunrise church services across the country this coming Sunday morning, many worshippers will participate in the poignant practice of “flowering the Easter cross.” As part of this custom, each worshipper is invited to pick out a fresh flower from an assortment of lilies, daisies, tulips, carnations and other spring delights, or may bring a flower from their garden at home. Then comes the meaningful moment when each individual approaches the cross– often on the lawn or perhaps at the altar– and stands before the cross to place their flower upon it with reflection and reverence. Often, families stand together at the cross, each picking out a special spot for their flower.
Like the unfolding of a worshipful orchestra, eventually the cross is completely covered in beautiful flowers in a brilliant array of color, light and lovely fragrance. A symbol of death, darkness, pain and hopelessness is transformed into something beautiful, new and alive in celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. This practice of creative Easter worship was no doubt inspired by the artistic world, since symbolic flowering crosses can be found in Christian art as early as the Sixth Century.
As I have reflected on the flowering of the Easter cross during this Holy Week, I thought: wouldn’t it be special to bring this tradition home? I was inspired by my friend Jamie, who has a lighted nook in her front foyer. There, she places seasonal and holiday displays that are sacred touchstones. Her Easter display, below, includes a central cross, a floral bouquet, sheep, a shepherd and an angel.
What a wonderful way to be greeted when entering her home! Such displays, full of meaning and significance, are at the heart of what a gracious home is all about. Inspired by her example, I set out on a quest to learn how to put together a floral cross for my home this Easter. That’s when I turned to Tracy Wilson, the creative entrepreneur who owns Blossoms by Stroud Florist in Jamestown, N.C. Tracy was up for the challenge, and kind enough to teach me how to flower a cross. We started out with a moss-covered cross form lined in plastic, about 20 inches high, and with floral foam soaked in water to fill in the inside of the cross form.
Tracy cut the foam to size and inserted inside the liner, making sure it fit snugly. The foam could be secured with floral tape if the fit was not tight enough. She then began by inserting the focal flowers at the center, which we chose to be brilliant pink lilies, since lilies represent purity and hope. Tracy noted that we should cut stems 2-3 inches from the bloom at an angle for best results before inserting into the floral foam.
Tracy used greenery to hide the floral foam and fill in the void spaces, sometimes trimming the edges to keep the cross shape intact. Carnations were chosen as a base flower to define the shape of the cross. Then, Tracy thoughtfully chose the kind and colors of flowers to symbolize aspects of the Easter story: white to symbolize the Resurrected Christ with the white carnations and daisies; yellow bachelor buttons were chosen to represent spring and new birth and purple statice was chosen since purple symbolizes royalty for the King of Kings. Red roses were chosen for two reasons–red for the blood of Christ, and the thorns of the rose stems are a reminder of the crown of thorns. The resulting creation was truly breathtaking, and as fragrant as a spring garden.
The cross is now on the sideboard in our dining room, already filling the room with fragrance and promise, as it will be filled with voices of loved ones for Easter lunch. After propping the finished cross up on an antiqued metal easel, I had an idea for next year: we could wait until Easter morning and let everyone in the family take part in flowering the cross.
To keep the flowers of the cross fresh for a number of days, Tracy recommends spraying daily with a spray bottle or with the spray gun at your sink, being sure to prop it up and let the water drain before placing it back on furniture. The cross form she used, which can be obtained from a florist or craft shop, can also be hung on the wall or a door like a wreath. While this form is suited for live flowers, other more basic forms like styrofoam could be used for permanent or silk flowers.
In my quest for making the floral cross experience personal, I shared the idea with my creative and crafty friend Allison. Allison, who is expecting her first baby in July, is always looking to add beautiful touches to the home she and her husband share. As she set out to create an Easter floral cross, she took a similar approach to Tracy, and purchased her flowers from the local farmer’s market. I love the yellow, pink, lilac and white color scheme she chose.
We’d love for you to share with us ways that you infuse your home with meaning and tradition for holidays, special occasions and every day. From the Hadley Court team, we wish you and yours a blessed and beautiful Easter holiday.
Kim Darden Shaver
Leslie Hendrix Wood
Founder, Editor In Chief of Hadley Court
Gracious Living. Timeless Design. Family Traditions.