For example, where did hot cross buns originate and why?
As with a lot of tradition that stretches way back in time, hot cross buns have a myriad of sources:
The practice of eating special small cakes at the time of the Spring festival dates back at least to the ancient Greeks, but the English custom of eating spiced buns on Good Friday was perhaps institutionalised in Tudor times, when a London bylaw was introduced forbidding the sale of such buns except on Good Friday, at Christmas, and at burials. At this stage the cross was presumably simply incised with a knife, rather than piped on in pastry, as is the modern commercial practice.
The pagans worshipped the goddess Eostre (after whom Easter was named) by serving tiny cakes, often decorated with a cross, at their annual spring festival. When archaeologists excavated the ancient city of Herculaneum in south western Italy, which had been buried under volcanic ash and lava since 79 C.E., they found two small loaves, each with a cross on it, among the ruins. The English word ‘bun’ probably came from the Greek boun, which referred to a ceremonial cake of circular or crescent shape, made of flour and honey and offered to the gods.
Where did the Easter bunny come from?
Among the most familiar Easter symbols is the rabbit. The Easter bunny or rabbit is most likely of pre-Christian origin. The rabbit was known as an extraordinarily fertile creature, and hence it symbolised the coming of spring.
Legend has it that the Easter bunny lays, decorates and hides eggs as they are also a symbol of new life.
Another legend originates from an Anglo-Saxon legend that of how the Saxon goddess Eostre found a wounded bird and transformed it into a hare, so that it could survive the winter. The hare found it could lay eggs, so it decorated these each spring and left them as offering to the goddess.
I’ve just figured out why I call the Easter bunny, a hot cross bunny. Do you get it?
I’m taking this little gem of wisdom and all the other ‘stuff’ I’ve learnt to the water cooler station, so I can be my very own type of Mad March Hare as I dole out bouns and eggs. Happy Easter, all!