Tuesday, 4 Oct 2022

History Of Hot Cross Buns

The debate about when hot cross buns should be sold has played out in the media recently.

There are more than 100 days until Easter and hot cross buns have already hit supermarket shelves. Some shoppers have taken to social media to hit out at supermarkets, while others welcome the early arrival of the delicious treat.

While hot cross buns are typically associated with Easter, many people often wonder where they come from, why the sweet-spiced bread is a symbol of Easter and what is with the cross on top.

Keep reading to learn all about the history of hot cross buns!

Theories On The Origins Of Hot Cross Buns

There are just as many arguments about when hot cross buns should be sold as there is about where they originated.

Early variations are said to date back to the Middle Ages when the Saxons baked buns marked with crosses in honour of Eostre, their goddess of dawn.

Other variations of the Easter treat are also said to appear in Greek, Druid and Phoenician history. One of the earliest variations may date back to ancient Roman times after archeologists found two carbonised loaves in the ruins of Pompeii. The loaves were each marked with a cross.

A more recent account of the hot cross bun dates back to the 14th century in St. Albans, England. The theory is an Anglican monk, named Brother Thomas Rodcliffe, baked buns and distributed them to the poor on Good Friday. The buns were marked with a cross in honour of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Hot cross buns are said to have gained popularity throughout England before the London Clerk of Markets banned the sales of spiced buns in 1592. This was due to superstition that they carried medicinal or magical properties. Queen Elizabeth I issued a law only allowing the sweet buns to be sold for funerals, Christmas and the Friday before Easter.

Among Christian faiths, hot cross buns are also said to have ties with Lent. As dairy products are forbidden during Lent, the sweet buns are said to have been a welcome treat after the 40 days of fasting.

Other myths and theories about hot cross buns include:

  • They can ward off evil spirits
  • They can stay fresh all year-round if you hang them from your rafters on Good Friday
  • They can fortify friendships when shared

When Can We Eat Hot Cross Buns?

While there are no longer any rules regarding the sale of hot cross buns, the sweet bun has become a key feature of modern Easter food traditions.

Despite the Easter ties, in Australia hot cross buns are often seen on supermarket shelves as early as Boxing Day, sparking the ongoing debate of when hot cross buns should be sold and eaten. There may be no break between holidays, but do you welcome the early arrival or are you against it?

If you want to get an early start on your celebrations, some bakery wholesalers sell hot cross buns all year round.