September 14th is The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, The Triumph of the Cross, or Holy Cross Day. It is celebrated in different Christian denominations, including Greek Orthodox, Anglican, and Catholic.
According to legends that spread widely, the True Cross was discovered in 326 by Saint Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, during a pilgrimage she made to Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine.
"The date of the feast marks the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335. This was a two-day festival: although the actual consecration of the church was on September 13, the cross itself was brought outside the church on September 14 so that the clergy and faithful could pray before the True Cross, and all could come forward to venerate it. "(http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/243.html)
For observance of this holiday Catholic and Anglican's will hold services with red vestments worn. In Eastern and Oriental Orthodox practices there are fasting and feasts around the holiday. The Ethiopian Orthodox also celebrate the finding of the Cross however they follow the Ethiopian Calendar and celebrate Holy Cross day on Meskerem 17 which corresponds to September 27.
The Cross today is a symbol of Christian belief. Christians believe that Jesus, was the son of God and died for the sins of man on the Cross. Therefore, for Christians, the significance of finding the Cross of Jesus's crucifixion is great.
For our craft we made a "stained glass" cross using tempera paint, parchment paper, and construction paper. A stained glass looking cross seemed like a good nod to how the inside of churches are typically decorated. To make this I drew a cross onto the construction paper and cut it out.
I then got out the tempera paint and let my Middle son finger paint and mix the colors on a piece of parchment paper. It was a fun way to review what happens when you mix colors too.
When he was done I taped another piece of parchment on top of his work of art and sealed in the sides. Then I taped his masterpiece on the back of the construction paper with the cross. When we taped it up on the window the light shone through showing his paint swirls. I used red construction paper since that is the color used to decorate the church on Holy Cross Day.
For our food I didn't see any obvious food connection to the holiday so we made hot crossed buns. While this is a recipe that is often associated with Good Friday or Easter I thought it fit well for Holy Cross Day. Recipe found here
Our version of the recipe was:
For the buns:
- 2 cups 2% Milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable Oil
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 package (2 1/4 Teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast
- 4 cups All-purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup (additional) Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- If you want -raisins, dried cranberries, or currant
For the glaze:
- 1 whole Egg White
For the Icing:
- 1 whole Egg White
- Powdered Sugar
- Splash Of Milk
Combine 2 cups milk, vegetable oil, and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Stir and heat until very warm but not boiling. Turn off the heat and allow to cool until mixture is still warm, but not hot--about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle yeast over mixture. Add 4 cups of flour and stir to combine. Mixture will be very sticky. Cover with a towel and set aside for 1 hour. (I got distracted and didn't add the flour right away it still rose but not as much as I think it would have)
Add 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir till combined.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon and whatever other spices you want to use.
Lightly flour surface. Press to slightly flatten dough. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Then fold the dough over on itself and flatten again so the dough is "plain" again. Repeat the sugar process, then fold the dough again. This is also the point where you would add raisins, currants, or cranberries if you were adding them. We didn't add them because my oldest doesn't like them and we didn't have any in the house at the time.
Pinch off ping pong or golf ball-size bunches of dough. With floured hands, quickly roll it into a ball, then turn the edges under themselves slightly. Place on a lightly greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes or if you are approaching bedtime like we were put on the glaze and throw them in the oven:)
PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 degrees
Take egg white and brush onto each roll.
Bake for 20 minutes, give or take, or until tops of buns have turned nice and golden brown.
Remove from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Mix 1 egg white with enough powdered sugar for icing to be very thick. Splash in milk as needed for consistency.
Add icing to a small Ziploc bag and snip the corner. Make icing crosses on each roll, making sure they're completely cooled first.
These went over very well in our house. The boys could barley wait for them to cool so we had a few hot and the icing melted and dripped but was delicious. More were enjoyed at breakfast the next day.