Thursday, June 17, 2010

Teaching Children the Liturgical Colors of the Church Year

Okay... Because I always try to give credit to where all these great ideas come from (information can get watered down so fast out here in blog land!), this idea for teaching children the liturgical colors of the Church Year was originally shared by Jennifer at Wildflowers and Marbles in 2007.  I had just started blogging at the time, and hadn't been blessed to "meet" Jennifer quite yet and missed the post, so my first introduction to this idea was last year when Suzanne (link no longer available) posted her own set.  I loved the idea but didn't think it was something I would be able to replicate.  I was finally convinced that it was possible by Charlotte, who posted a non-power tool version.  Yay!!

Anyhow, after deciding that I did INDEED want to give this craft a try, I could NOT find crosses that would work anywhere.  (We are not blessed with a Hobby Lobby in our area and last year they weren't selling online yet.)  I finally found a set of 12 wooden crosses online (similar to this one) and placed an order for them.  That was last June.

I had every intention to complete them as one of our projects, in addition to our Lap Book, for The Year for Priests, and isn't it just like me to wait until almost the very last minute? Yep, our set was completed with just 2 days to spare.

We almost made a set during "V" week, but at that time another local mom had started talking about Summer with the Saints for this year, and I told her I had the perfect craft for June. I shared the idea, gave her my box of crosses, and decided to wait.

To keep it simple we were originally going to make the vestments out of felt (like Charlotte's), but I just loved Anne's GORGEOUS fabric version. I also wanted to create Traditional Roman Fiddleback Vestments (like Ruth) since that is what my FSSP brothers-in-law wear when offering Mass.

So, as you can see, our inspiration came from many of my online friends!   

THANK YOU to ALL of you!! :-)   

Now, on to our version! To prepare the craft for our children, we first stained the crosses and then headed to the fabric store and found some beautiful fabrics and ribbons. On her way home she stopped by my house and had me make a little pattern for the Fiddleback Vestments.  (OOOhhhh!! I was nervous!)  It's not perfect, but I was happy with how it turned out and so we pre-cut two of each color so the children could each decorate one or two.

The children all cut ribbon for the front and back and glued it on to their vestments.

Well, that was about all that they were able wanted to do.  
No...this was not the most kid friendly craft.  

So, while the children ate pizza, I kept gluing... and gluing! ;)

While the children all had a blast playing, we continued cutting out 10 more of each color.  The plan is to eventually have a set for each of our children.  We'll have a total of 12 though, which leaves 3 extra sets.   When they are finished we are thinking of listing them on Ebay (or maybe here at Shower of Roses) as a Fundraiser for my Little Flowers Girls' Club.

After they were (almost) dry we tried them on the crosses.
Here they are with a little information on each color:

Red:   The color of blood, is used on all feasts of our Lord's Cross and Passion, on the feasts of the Apostles and of all martyrs. Red is also used on Pentecost and in Masses of the Holy Spirit, in memory of the tongues of fire of the First Pentecost.

Green: The color of budding and living vegetation, it is the symbol of hope. It is used on the Sundays after Epiphany and after Pentecost.

Purple: A symbol of penance and expiation. It is used during the penitential seasons of Advent, Septuagesima and Lent, and on fast days and vigils.

Rose: This color is permitted, in place of purple, on the third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete) and on the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare), when the Church tempers the sadness of the penitential seasons with an invitation to rejoice in the goodness of God our Saviour.

White: The symbol of innocence and triumph (Apoc.3,5) It is used on all feasts of the joyful and glorious mysteries of our Lord's life (e.g. Christmas and Easter), on the feast of our Blessed Mother, on the feasts of angels and of all saints who were not martyrs.

Gold:  Vestments made of real cloth of gold are permitted in place of white, red and green vestments

Black: The color of death and mourning. It is used for the services of Good Friday and for Masses for the Faithful Departed.

Didn't they turn out great?!?  My children couldn't wait to show their dad when he got home from work.  As soon as he saw them he said,   "Wow!!! Those are Awwweeeesome!"  I  had a feeling he would be impressed.

Update:  There is just one cross for each set of vestments.  The children will then change the vestments to coordinate with the correct Liturgical Season.   They are just displayed on individual crosses for the picture.

8/4/2011 Update:   Here is the link to download the Fiddleback Vestment Pattern I created!  


  1. Dear Jessica,
    You have done a wonderful job on these vestments and the last tributes to the year of the priests.

    I too had made some vestments last year after my son had made me some "Father Pine's" about three years before that.
    That is how slow I was to make them.

    I pray they are a wonderful addition to your learning in the home as we have enjoyed them too.

  2. love your version. i hope to make some soon.
    pax Christi - lena

  3. Wonderful job, Jessica! Looks like everyone had a lot of fun while learning, too!

  4. SUPER ideas! Another ideas to try that might make it even more user friendly...order all the crosses at once but do one color/vestment at a at the time of the liturgical season you may be in. THanks for sharing.

  5. They're great; we're definitely going to have to do this this year.

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  7. Oh Jessica and Marci,

    Those ARE awesome! You guys did such a great job and I know there are lots of families out there who would love to purchase one of your extra sets.

  8. We will be doing this project, I love it! I'll link to you when (and it will most likely be a while) I post them on my blog!

  9. I really think this is something we will do. Thank you for all the details! I am excited to show my children! +JMJ+

  10. Jessica, these are wonderful! What inspiration you give us. Thanks!

  11. Gorgeous! And I think the crosses are actually the perfect form on which to hang the liturgical vestments (both figuratively and literally)! Like you, I've been looking longingly at the various vestments made by all these lovely ladies in blogland, but we attend the TLM, and I was not ambitious enough to try fiddlebacks! Would it be completely impertinent to ask if either of you would be willing to share the pattern? I understand that if you are going to be selling them, that may not be possible...and, in that case, my apologies in advance! :) Thank you, as always, for all the generous sharing of ideas and inspiration. --J.C.

  12. These are fantastic! You are so creative.

  13. I love them, Jessica! Where did you find the crosses?

  14. I have wanted to do these for a long time. They just keep getting cuter and cuter. I HAVE to do them now :) Or buy an extra!

  15. Wow, Jessica! They're fantastic! I started to make a few myslef a couple of weeks ago out of felt and never finished. But I LOVE the fiddleback design! And the material you used is so great! I may have to scrap mine and start over. :)

    You are an inspiration as always!

  16. I love the ribbons and trim that you guys used... so pretty! What kind of glue did you use to get the ribbon to adhere to the fabric? I had lots of trouble getting my glue to stick... some kind of tacky glue. I ended up using glue gun for some of them, which doesn't look as neat and tidy...
    Ha, if you sell your extra sets, I may have to buy one, if the neck hole will fit over my wooden priest's big head! ;-P

  17. Another beautiful and inspiring craft! So when can I buy my set? They look a bit too intimidating for me =)
    Thanks again!

  18. Thanks so much for sharing your life with us - it helps tremendously as we carry along the path of homeschooling - trying to trust that everything we need will be taken care of ... God Bless!

  19. Jessica, these are so beautiful! I'm thinking what I might do is just have one cross stand & keep it by the kids' school calendar, and "change the vestments" with the liturgical seasons. It'd be fun to see who notices the change first! :)

    I love that you traced your "provenance" of the idea -- lots of great links to see how else others have done this. I always like to say that great homeschooling is often just the judicious use of other people's great ideas! :) (Which, of course,is why I've been a fool to back off looking at blogs lately. One of many reasons, actually.)

    A new baby and you're as prolific as ever. You're amazing! And I'm inspired.


  20. these are gorgeous! i would SO buy an extra set!!

  21. VERY well done! I linked to this on my weekly roundup - what a super idea!

    I suppose it might make it easier to have only one cross, and then change the vestments each day (or as needed), but whoever said easy was fun? :>) Thanks for sharing!

  22. WOW! Those are really cute! I need to check out Hobby Lobbys website and see if I can find some crosses. I think these would be perfect on the family alter to help the kids remember what Liturgical Year we are celebrating!

  23. Good post and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you as your information.

  24. These are absolutely lovely, Jessica. Thank you for sharing them! Have you ever tried making a larger version for your sons to "play Mass"? I'm contemplating this as a birthday gift for my soon-to-be-3-yr old, but am feeling nervous! I'm thinking some pretty fabric, interfacing, thick ribbon for the front cross, and then trim. Any thoughts? Thank you!


    1. Hi Catie! I am just noticing that I never answered your questions. Sorry about that! I never have made my own larger vestments, but my boys do have some that I purchased from Our Father's House. In fact, Our Father's House also sells Child-Size Vestment Patterns as well.

      You can see one of my boys wearing his vestments here.

  25. Where did you find the fabric, I got some rather plain at walmart, I like the Jacquard design on yours, could not find it though.
    Thank you so much for sharing this idea.
    After doing this project I might try to sew vestment for my boy...

    1. I actually wasn't the one to purchase the fabric - just the crosses and some of the ribbon/trim - but it was all from a local fabric store. I hope you are able to find some that will work for you!

  26. These are brilliant! I want to make these this year! I'm not particularly "crafty" but love projects like this and it will be a great addition to our liturgical year celebrations and learning more about Mass and the seasons!

    Thank you for sharing this! I've seen them in the backgrounds of some of your photos now and then and have wondered about them! They always caught my eye and what a wonderful gift idea for priests or priest-friends that have moved to another parish for Christmas or Easter, etc!

  27. This is so wonderful, thanks so much for sharing your great Ideas!

  28. I know this is years after your original post, but do you have plans to sell an extra set on EBay? We just have one child so just need one set. Thank you for your beautiful site and devotion to family! Warmly, Melissa

  29. What a good idea. My grands would love this. Also, my DIL would works with special needs religious education.


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