Traditionally eaten for breakfast on Good Friday in the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa hot cross buns are a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top. These buns mark the end of Lent for many people, although for others it is now just a family tradition.
Within a religious context the different parts of the hot cross bun have their own meanings. The cross on the top of the buns, either made from flour and water or more traditionally pastry, represent the crucifixion of Jesus, whilst the spices inside are representing spiced oils used to embalm him at his burial.
There are lots of superstitions in English folklore around hot cross buns. One especially caught my eye while I was researching for this article states that hot cross buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow mouldy during the coming year. I don’t think that I would like to try that one for myself. There is another story that suggests if a hot cross bun is hung in the kitchen it will protect the kitchen and the house against fires and all bread and buns cooked there will turn out perfectly as long as the bun is replaced each year to continue the protection.
Nowadays hot cross buns are available from most supermarkets almost all year round, personally I am very happy with that as I love them at any time, but I am sure there are many purists who would prefer to have them only at Eastertime.