This decorative cross is from Sweden. It is known as a ‘Thomas Cross’ and represents the feast day of St Thomas, which is celebrated on 21st December, the winter solstice. Traditionally, this was the day that children finished school for the Christmas holidays, and they gave their teachers candles and money in exchange for a big feast. This cross has been made by carefully cutting along the wood grain to cause curled slivers of wood to form a decorative pattern.
The back of the cross is inscribed ‘Svensk Slöjd’, which means ‘Swedish craft’. Craft education in schools was developed in Sweden in the 1870s under the guidance of educationalist Otto Salomon, and focused strongly on teaching and developing woodworking skills. ‘Slöjd’ is still part of compulsory education in Sweden, though other crafts are also included.
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