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Origins: Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns; by nettsu via flickr

Hot cross buns, hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons,
One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!

‘Tis the season for chocolate bunnies, disappointingly hollow eggs and hot cross buns. And, y’know commemorating the crucifixion of Christ, if we believe in That Sort of Thing.

Traditionally eaten on Good Friday, hot cross buns are a sweet, spiced bread roll containing raisins, sultanas and candied peel and marked with a cross. The buns pre-date Christianity by some margin, being thought to date back to Ancient Greece. Over the centuries, they have become inextricably associated with Easter. They have numerous superstitions and traditions attached to them, but here we are concerned with just one of them.

The eating of hot cross buns has long been seen as a harbinger of good luck. The famous nursery rhyme is supposed to have begun life as a street seller’s song, reminding potential customers to make sure their families consumed the spiced buns, thus ensuring another year of good luck.

A further two lines are thought to have sometimes been added:

But if you haven’t any of these pretty elves,
You cannot do better than to eat them yourselves.

It seems those concerned with advertising consumables have never shied from trying to convince us of some spurious fact in order to manipulate us into purchasing their wares.

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