If someone says “hot cross buns” to me, I don’t always want to cover my ears, remembering the joys of having a second-grade kid playing the song of the same name out of tune on their recorder.
I also think of actual hot cross buns, the delicious, warm, toasted Easter treat that I love to eat spread with lashings of butter that melts in just beautifully…
While hot cross buns have been in our supermarkets since Christmas time – always a source of amusement when someone posts a photo of them on Boxing Day on Facebook – the traditional time of year to enjoy them is fast approaching. Good Friday! Or if you can’t wait that long, and who can blame you, just eat them now.
I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to hot cross buns and I enjoy mine with fruit – in fact my absolute favourite ones come from a gourmet bakery a few hours away and contain muscatels (the sultana made from the muscat grape). My husband has gone on a lengthy road trip to fetch some for me, which I toast or warm in the oven, before spreading with delicious with butter.
Some people, and I cannot understand them at all, prefer their hot cross buns to be fruitless (what is the point of that?!) While others enjoy the chocolate chip or caramel varieties.
Here are some facts about hot cross buns you might want to consider as you tuck into your stash – with lots of Butter, of course – this year:
Religious beings believe in kissing a hot cross bun before eating it because a cross sits on top of the bun.
A superstition surrounding hot cross buns is proposed when sharing a bun with another and saying “Half for you and half for me. Between us, two shall goodwill be”, Will provide good luck to your friendship for the year.
The National Hot Cross Bun Day is held on the 11th of September each year
Hot Cross Buns are meant to be traditionally only eaten of Good Friday in the majority of western countries.
While we think of hot cross buns as being a symbol of Christianity, they actually date back to pagan times when the goddess Eastore (who Easter was named after) was worshipped in springtime with buns marked with a cross to represent the four phases of the moon.
Once Christianity took hold in the UK the buns were banned.
Hot cross buns have been traced back as early as 1361 when a monk named Father Thomas Rocliffe, was recorded to have made small spiced cakes stamped with the sign of the cross, to be distributed to the poor visiting the monastery at St. Albans on Good Friday.
Some believe if you share a hot cross bun with somebody you will be friends with that person for the following year.
The cross on top of a hot cross bun is supposed to ward off evil spirits.
People in the middle ages believed if hot cross buns were hung in a kitchen, they would prevent kitchen fires and would also ensure that all bread baked that year turned out great.
Another superstition from this time says that if you baked hot cross buns on Good Friday, they wouldn’t grow mouldy or spoil for an entire year.
Hot cross buns were also said to have magical powers that protected ships from shipwreck if they were taken on a sea voyage.
Some people also kept hot cross buns for medicinal purposes, believing if you gave one to someone who was ill it would cure them.
According to old Irish folklore, if you share a hot cross bun with someone it will cement your friendship for an entire year.
Queen Elizabeth I decided hot cross buns were so special, people could only have them on Good Friday, Christmas or at burials.
Some believe the buns were really banned because the Church feared their reported magical powers.
Another theory is they were banned by the Protestants because they feared Catholics were baking hot cross buns to turn into communion wafers.
To get around the law, people began baking the buns at home and it became too difficult to enforce.
The world’s oldest hot cross bun is believed to be more than 200 years old. A couple from Essex in England have a bun accompanied by a letter that says it was made in 1807. And it isn’t mouldy!
According to the rhyme, hot cross buns were sold for one a penny or two a penny, which makes you wonder why you would buy one if you could get two for the same price. The reason for this is that you could get one big one for a penny or two small ones for a penny.
How do you like your Hot Cross Buns?
Hot Cross Buns are really good fun to make at home – get the kids involved too! Here are some recipes!
More ways to enjoy Hot Cross Buns… with a twist!