Thursday, April 01, 2010

hot cross buns

A centuries-old symbol of Good Friday, hot cross buns are a delicious (and pretty!) addition to a Holy Week celebrating spring time, resurrection, and forgiveness.

A welcome diversion from the plastic Easter grass, chocolate bunnies, and marshmallow Peeps, the tradition of hot cross buns has survived generations, representing home, family, and hearth.

One of my favorite bloggers/writers/domestic goddesses, Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) has her own take on hot cross buns:

English folklore said that Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday would never spoil throughout the following year. Some bakers believed that holding on to one Hot Cross Bun and hanging it in the kitchen meant that all yeast products in the coming year would rise successfully. Some sailors took Hot Cross Buns on their voyages to ensure their ships wouldn’t sink. And friends who gift one another with Hot Cross Buns every year are said to remain friends for life.
I love stories behind stories and the history of why things are done. Like so many other Christian traditions and holidays we celebrate today, hot cross buns seem to have pagan roots that were morphed into modern symbolism. Sandy Moyer of BellaOnline writes the following:

Although they have been a Lenten and Good Friday tradition for centuries, Hot Cross Buns were not always associated with Christianity. Their origins lie in pagan traditions of ancient cultures, with the cross representing the four quarters of the moon. During early missionary efforts, the Christian church adopted the buns and re-interpreted the icing cross. In 1361, a monk named Father Thomas Rockcliffe began a tradition of giving Hot Cross Buns to the poor of St Albans on Good Friday.

In years that followed, many customs, traditions, superstitions, and claims of healing and protection from evil and were associated with the buns. In the 16th century, Roman Catholicism was banned in England, but the popularity of Hot Cross buns continued. Queen Elizabeth I passed a law banning the consumption of Hot Cross Buns except during festivals such as Easter, Christmas and funerals.
So today, as we begin our long weekends at home observing the death and resurrection of Christ (as well as planting our gardens, hunting for eggs, and enjoying the spring weather), why not begin things by baking up a batch of hot cross buns and sharing with friends and loved ones, just as tradition encourages.

Here's Ree's recipe

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