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History of Hot Cross Buns

1. A 12th-century monk introduced the cross to the bun.

The origins of hot cross buns may go back as far as the 12th century. According to the story, an Anglican monk baked the buns and marked them with a cross in honor of Good Friday. Over time they gained popularity, and eventually became a symbol of Easter weekend.

2. Hot cross buns gained popularity in Elizabethan England.

Towards the end of the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I passed a law limiting the sale of sweet buns to funerals, Christmas, and the Friday before Easter. The English were deeply superstitious, believed the buns carried medicinal or magical properties, and were fearful of those powers being abused. Some even believed that buns baked on Good Friday would never go stale.

As a way to get around the law, more and more people began baking these sweet buns at home. Not only did they grow in popularity, but the law became too difficult to enforce and was eventually rescinded.

3. Superstitions about hot cross buns baked on Good Friday.

There are also more than a few stories that indicate hot cross buns were baked on Good Friday for superstitious reasons. One tale states that buns baked on this day and hung from the rafters of a home would ward off evil spirits in the coming year. Another talks of these buns protecting sailors from shipwreck, while off at sea. Yet another version mentions that sharing the bun with a loved one guarantees friendship in the coming year.

Do you eat hot cross buns at Easter? Have you ever tried making your own?