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Buns, Eggs, & Bunnies?
Why do we eat hot cross buns?
A hot cross bun is a spiced, sweet bun marked with a cross on top. They are traditionally eaten on Good Friday.
The cross represents the crucifixion of Jesus, while the spices are said to remind Christians of the spices put on his body.
Hot cross buns appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1733, but they have been around since before then.
Enriched, sweetened bread dough dates back to the Romans. Long before Christianity, loaves and buns were baked with symbols on them, one of which was a cross.
Small, spiced cakes were also baked to honour the Saxon goddess Eoestre, and to celebrate spring, but it was the Tudors who began to link the spiced currant buns we know today with feast days, celebrations and eventually Lent.
What do eggs have to do with Easter?
Eggs illustrate new life, just as Jesus began his new life on East Sunday after the miracle of his resurrection.
When eggs are cracked open they are said to symbolise an empty tomb.
Originally eating eggs was forbidden in the week leading up to Easter (known as Holy Week). They were saved and decorated in the run-up to the celebration, and given to children as gifts.
Sometimes they were coloured red, in recognition of the blood sacrificed by Jesus when he was crucified. Green was also used to symbolise spring re-growth after the winter.
The first chocolate eggs appeared in France and Germany during the 19th century.
As chocolate-making techniques improved the modern Easter egg as we know it was born – and remain very popular (and delicious).
Where does the Easter Bunny fit in to this?
The legend of the Easter Bunny is thought to have originated among German Lutherans, where the ‘Easter Hare’ judged whether children had been good or bad in the run-up to Easter.
Over time it has become incorporated into Christian celebrations and became popular in Britain during the 19th century.
Many children believe that the Easter Bunny lays and hides baskets of coloured eggs, sweets and sometimes toys in their homes or around the garden the night before Easter Sunday – much like Father Christmas delivering gifts on Christmas Eve.
This has given rise to the tradition of the Easter egg hunt which is still popular among children today.