Hot cross buns are typically associated with Easter, even if they can be bought all year round.
Traditionally eaten on Good Friday to mark the end of lent, this sweet bun is steeped in religious symbolism. Made by adding flour, butter, yeast, eggs, milk, mixed spices, candied peel, raisins or currents together, the dough is then shaped into round buns and baked in the oven. A strip of dough or icing in the shape of a cross is added to the top of the bun, to represent the crucifixion of Jesus. The bread symbolises holy communion, and the spices added to the bun refer to those that Jesus was embalmed in.
Although hot cross buns are a staple of Easter, their historical origins are a bit sketchy. There's evidence that the Egyptians and Ancient Greeks used to make buns at the turn of a new season, and the Saxons created their own version with a cross added to represent the goddess of spring and fertility.
A common theory is that hot cross buns originated in the 14th century in St Albans, when a monk called Brother Thomas Rocliffe baked Alban buns, which he distributed to the poor and needy on Good Friday.
Hot cross buns and similar types of buns were also thought to be popular during the reign of Elizabeth I and James I, although at the time they were only known as cross buns. So popular were these buns that a law was enforced during the early 1600s to only allow the sale of them during religious periods, such as Easter or Christmas. However, this law was impossible to uphold, and many people began to make the buns at home.
The first recorded history of hot cross buns can be traced back to 1733, when market street criers in London could be heard trying to peddle their buns with the following ditty. 'Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs. With one or two a penny hot cross buns'. These lyrics were published in the Poor Robin's Almanack for 1733, and later in the Christmas Box in 1798, and have become one of the most well-known nursery rhymes around today .
It was from this rhyme that cross buns acquired the ‘hot’ before their name.
As well as their religious context, hot cross buns were also shrouded in superstition, with many people believing that if you made hot cross buns on Good Friday they would not go mouldy for an entire year. They were also hung up in kitchens to prevent fires and ward off evil spirits. Others firmly believed that these sweet buns could cure illnesses.
If you sell hot cross buns in this day and age, shouting out a nursery rhyme is no longer necessary to entice your customers. For bakeries and shops looking to display their hot cross buns or other baked goods, a wide variety of sturdy, contemporary and stylish shelving products from KAS Shopfittings can assist with this task.
The KAS Shopfittings’ team would like to wish you all a very Happy Easter!