"Hot Cross Buns - one a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns!"
Who can forget that popular little nursery rhyme! It could have come straight out of the pages of a Dickens' novel and was regularly chanted by street vendors who sold the warm, fresh buns straight from the oven on Good Friday. Until recent years, Hot Cross Buns were only available to buy on Good Friday, as a result of a London bylaw which was introduced back in Tudor times, banning the sale of them at any other times. The little fruited and spiced buns with a cross carved on top have long been a symbol of Good Friday. Hot Cross Buns have been a Good Friday and Lenten tradition for centuries. Even though nowadays we associate them with Christianity, some people believe the original roots of the buns lie in pagan times when the cross symbolised the four corners of the moon. Also in Roman times, an ox would traditionally be sacrified at Easter and the image of it's horns carved into a ritual bread bun, which later evolved to become the Hot Cross Bun we know today. To the Romans the cross symbol represented the ox's horns. The word bun is actually derived from the Saxon word boun which means sacred ox. In the late 1300's a monk, Father Thomas Rockliffe distributed the buns to the poor of St Albans on Good Friday. They were made to a secret recipe and became very popular. Soon afterwards they became a christian tradition with the cross symbolising the crucifixion and reminding us that Jesus died on the cross.
There are many old English superstitions and folklore tales surrounding the buns. The buns have long been associated with healing and protection. It was once thought that taking a Hot Cross Bun on a sea voyage helped to guard against shipwreck! Other popular beliefs are that if a bun is halfed and shared, the person you share it with will remain a lifelong friend and also that hanging a hot cross bun up in the house ensures good luck for the coming year! In years gone by, buns made on Good Friday were used in powdered form to treat a variety of illnesses. Today Hot Cross Buns are available to buy in supermarkets and bakeries thoughout the Easter season. I love Hot Cross Buns and always enjoy them at this time of year. My favourite way of eating them is toasted and buttered with some cheese in the middle. If you would like to have a go at making some delicious Hot Cross Buns yourself, click on the link shown below:-