Whose cross are you carrying?

Posted by Les Ellison  ·  Be the first to comment

Palm Sunday: the day in the church year when children are deliberately given Christian symbols they can readily turn into swords and daggers. Not quite the intended witness, as children sword-fence their way through the after-service coffee and into the street, but still an opportunity to get the sign and meaning of the cross into their parents cars and homes.

The palm crosses carried out of church and school on Palm Sunday can provide more than a traditional witness and symbolic connection with the Easter story. Palm crosses made from locally sourced palms provide a vital source of income for communities dependant on managing natural resources to provide the basics of everyday life.

Eden.co.uk’s Easter palm crosses are entirely sourced from a village sited in one exceptionally poor area of Southern Tanzania. Harvested from local palm trees, these African palm crosses are woven in one piece by the men, women and children of the Masasi village.

In 1965, Anglican missionary Alan Talbot needed to find a way for the farming families of Masasi in Tanzania to lift their families above the poverty line. Subsistence farming and selling their few surplus cashew nuts could never give the villagers even the most basic levels of modern health care and education. Desperate to improve the lives of the villagers, Alan Talbot assessed their resources and came up with a plan that would give Masasi the help they needed to help themselves out of poverty.

What the village had in abundance was the spirit of community, the desire to work hard and the manual skills to work well. They also had an abundance of Hyphaena coriacia – the African dwarf palm. Using the manual skills developed over centuries and handed down the generations, whole families of villagers worked together to weave strips of palm leaves into the tradition symbol of Christ’s entry into the holy city of Jerusalem and the beginning of Passiontide and the church’s Holy Week.

Weaving the strips of locally grown palm fronds into perfectly formed palm crosses, the villagers turned an ancient handicraft into a self-help opportunity to invest in the future health and education of their village. Through their distribution network ‘African Palms’, the proceeds from Masasi palm crosses are re-invested to meet basic needs and services that the developed world takes for granted.

All Masasi African palm crosses are hand woven without chemical treatment of the trees or palm leaves. The absence of chemical treatment protects the Masasi village environment and makes the palm crosses safe this Palm Sunday and their burnt ashes safe to use on next year’s Ash Wednesday.


Quick Guide to

African Palm Crosses - what are they?

  • Elegant, traditional Palm Sunday crosses hand woven by Masasi villagers from naturally grown and chemical free African palm leaves.
  • Grown, harvested, woven and distributed as part of self-help programme in one of the poorest regions of Southern Tanzania.

African Palm Crosses - why should I choose them?

  • To connect with and support  investment in the future health and education of the Masasi village.
  • For environmentally safe, ethically sound and economically resarding emplyment for the whole village.

Over to You

At Eden.co.uk you can find a truly interactive Christian community helping you find all you need to live, learn and grow your faith.

  • Eden.co.uk source all their Palm Sunday palm crosses through the charity African Palms. How important to you is ethical sourcing of products and materials used in church?
  • Palm crosses are both a tradition and a visible witness. Have you had an experience around the distribution or display of palm crosses?

Tell us. Post your ideas, views and tips - bizarre and brilliant at Eden.co.uk

4th February

February 4th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison

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