, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


We all know the old nursery rhyme about hot cross buns, the spiced, sweet bread filled with sultanas, raisins or currants and marked with a pastry cross that is now synonymous with Good Friday (which falls two days before Easter).

There is some uncertainty about the origin of hot cross buns
and how they came to be associated with Easter. The most popular theory is that during the reign of Elizabeth I, the London Clerk of Market issued a decree forbidding the sale of hot cross buns except at burials, on Good Friday and Christmas. Eventually, the buns were made solely on Good Friday.

Whatever the truth may be, we know for sure that from the mid 1600s onward, hot cross buns (also known as cross buns or Good Friday buns) were consumed for breakfast and dinner on Good Friday (as they still are in many Christian households). In 1664, the famous diarist Samuel Pepys wrote that he ate them for his “Lenten supper”; while in 1783, the Man of Letters, Dr Samuel Johnson, consumed “cross buns and tea without milk” for his Good Friday breakfast.

Many Christians in Pakistan continue the tradition by eschewing other food and only eating hot cross buns on Good Friday; some eat them from breakfast onwards, while those who are fasting may eat them in the late afternoon or evening.

Over the last few years, hot cross buns have become popular with Pakistanis of all faiths, especially in Karachi where Misquita Bakery, Crispo Bakery and Bread Centre Bakery witness long queues on Good Friday and even Easter Sunday, and churn out hundreds of dozens of spiced buns.

If you have never had the pleasure of biting into a sweet, fragrant, fruity and cushiony hot cross bun, let this Easter be the first of many times you will sample this delight.

– Marylou Andrew

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 31, 2013