Traditionally eaten on Good Friday- Hot cross buns, with their combination of spicy, sweet and fruity flavours have long been an Easter tradition.
Offering Bread to mark the arrival of Spring goes as far back as the Ancient Greeks who baked small loaves of bread with crosses, and similarly, the Egyptians who marked their bread with the image of ox horns to Sefkhet – the goddess of the moon.
The tradition of baking bread marked with a cross is linked to paganism as well as Christianity. The pagan Saxons would bake bread at the beginning of spring in honour of the Eostre – the goddess of spring and fertility- the source of our word Easter. The cross represented the rebirth of the world after winter- symbolising the four quarters of the moon, the four seasons, and the wheel of life.
The Christians interpreted the cross as a representation of the crucifixion, and as with many other pre-Christian traditions, they replaced the pagan meaning with a Christian one – the resurrection of Christ at Easter.
But it wasn’t until the Tudor period that the hot cross bun was permanently linked to Christian celebrations.
During the reign of Elizabeth I, the London Clerk of Markets issued a decree forbidding the sale of the spiced buns except at burials, Christmas, or on Good Friday; no doubt this cemented the tradition of eating Hot cross buns at this time of year.
The first recorded reference to the Hot Cross Buns was in ‘Poor Robin’s Almanac’ in the early 1700s:
‘Good Friday come this month, the old woman runs. With one or two a penny hot cross 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!’
Categories: Food & Drink