You either love ‘em or hate ‘em, but each year Easter brings with it the doughy, sticky, raisin-studded buns that many have come to love and anticipate year-after-year. Marked with an icing cross over the top, a symbol of this religious holiday, hot cross buns are a holiday staple revered by many cultures across the globe.
Given this baked good’s long history, legends and superstitions have had ample time to develop and grow around their origin:
- A 12th-century monk was the first person to mark the bun with a cross
This monk baked the buns on Good Friday, in honour of the upcoming Easter holiday, and they soon gained popularity around England as a symbol of the holiday weekend.
- According to legend, they should stay fresh for an entire year
If you hang a hot cross bun from your kitchen rafters on Good Friday, legend has it that the bread will remain fresh and mould-free throughout the entire year. This relates back to the body of Christ, which, according to the Bible, did not show any signs of decay after his crucifixion and prior to his resurrection.
- They expel bad spirits.
According to legend, due to the blessed cross on top, hot cross buns hung in the kitchen are supposed to protect from evil spirits. They’re also said to prevent kitchen fires from breaking out, and ensure that all breads baked that year will turn out perfectly delicious.
- And cement friendships.
Those who share a hot cross bun are supposed to enjoy a strong friendship and bond for the next year. A line from an old rhyme captures this lore, which says: “Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be.”
- They’re too sacred to eat any old day.
In 1592, Queen Elizabeth I decreed that hot cross buns could no longer be sold on any day except for Good Friday, Christmas or for burials. They were simply too special to be eaten any other day.