Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hot Cross Buns - an Easter Tradition

With Easter coming up this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to learn a little about this tasty holiday treat.  They can be found in stores everywhere around Easter, they are sweet, spiced buns with currants or raisins and sometimes other candied fruits.  They are leavened with yeast and have a cross made of icing on the top.

Traditionally, these are eaten on Good Friday with the cross symbolizing the crucifixion.  The first use of the term Hot Cross Buns was recorded in 1733.  However it is believed that the Saxons ate buns marked with a cross to honor the goddess Eostre.  This is probably the origin of the word Easter.

This tradition is believed to have begun when Queen Elizabeth I banned them from being consumed except at festivals such as Easter and Christmas.  In many cultures, breads play an important part in religious holidays.  It symbolizes different religious events depending on ingredients and shape.

There is a lot of folklore associated with Hot Cross Buns.
  • Buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or mold during the year.
  • Sharing a bun with another ensures friendship during the coming year, especially if you say the following:  "Half for you half for me, between us two shall goodwill be"
  • Some say that because of the cross, the bun should be kissed before being eaten.
  • They protect against shipwreck on an ocean voyage.
  • Hang one in the kitchen to protect against fire.

There is even a nursery rhyme named for the buns.  
Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha' penny, two ha' penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha' penny,
Two ha' penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

So try some Hot Cross Buns and share in a tradition that goes back centuries.

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