A hot cross bun, or cross-bun, is a type of sweet spiced bun made with currants or raisins and leavened with yeast. It has a cross marked on the top which might be effected in one of a variety of ways including: pastry, flour and water mixture, rice paper, icing, or intersecting cuts.
In many historically Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the crucifixion. They are believed by some to pre-date Christianity, although the first recorded use of the term "hot cross bun" is not until 1733; it is believed that buns marked with a cross were eaten by Saxons in honour of the goddess Eostre (the cross is thought to have symbolised the four quarters of the moon); "Eostre" is probably the origin of the name "Easter". Others claim that the Greeks marked cakes with a cross, much earlier. Cakes were certainly baked in honor of deities since very ancient times, although it is not known if they were marked.
According to cookery writer Elizabeth David, Protestant English monarchs saw the buns as a dangerous hold-over of Catholic belief in England, being baked from the dough used in making the communion wafer. Protestant England attempted to ban the sale of the buns by bakers but they were too popular, and instead Elizabeth I passed a law permitting bakeries to sell them, but only at Easter and Christmas.
English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or become mouldy during the subsequent year. Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone who is ill is said to help them recover.
Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if "Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be" is said at the time. Due to the cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten. If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.
In both Australia and New Zealand recently a chocolate version of the bun has become popular. They generally contain the same mixture of spices but chocolate chips are used instead of currants. This is due to the close association between Easter and chocolate, or simply to a love of chocolate in general.
In the Czech Republic, mazanec is a similar cake or sweet bread eaten at Easter time. It often has a cross marked on top.
Around Easter 2003, the Daily Telegraph among other newspapers, reported that several local authorities in England (in particular Tower Hamlets Borough Council) had banned schools serving hot cross buns on the grounds of political correctness, believing the symbol of the cross could be offensive to non-Christians. This step was widely condemned, most vocally by Ann Widdecombe. As one of the cited councils, the City of York issued a statement making clear that although the buns were not being served in their schools this year, there was "no particular reason" for this, and it was not based on any policy decision.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Oxford English Dictionary
- ↑ New Zealand Easter Baking: Hot Cross Buns, Best, Easy, Chocolate, History, How To Make, Cake
- ↑ WHO WERE THE FIRST TO CRY "HOT CROSS BUNS?" - Article Preview - The New York Times
- ↑ Bible, Jer. vii.18 and xliv.19
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 "Hot Cross Buns". Practically Edible: The Web's Biggest Food Encyclopedia. Practically Edible. http://www.practicallyedible.com/edible.nsf/pages/hotcrossbuns. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Clayton, Bernard Jr. (1995). Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 554. ISBN 068481174X.
- ↑ "Easter Baking: Hot Cross Buns". http://jeanniebayb.livejournal.com/90073.html. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
- ↑ "Easter in Czech Republic". http://festivals.iloveindia.com/easter/traditions/easter-in-czech-republic.html. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
- ↑ Hastings, Chris; Elizabeth Day (2003-03-16). "Hot cross banned: councils decree buns could be 'offensive' to non-Christians". Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/03/16/nbuns16.xml. Retrieved 2007-01-21.
- ↑ "Council Hits Out at School Buns Ban Claim". http://web.archive.org/web/20050405202430/http://www.york.gov.uk/cgi-bin/wn_document.pl?type=3293. Retrieved 2007-02-23.
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