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History of Hot Cross Buns and Easter Bunnies
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History of Hot Cross Buns and Easter Bunnies

Posted by: Angena on Sun, Apr 9, 2006

ever wonder where they came from?

□ Hot Cross Buns were traditionally served during the Lenten Season, especially on Good Friday. Their origins, however, like the Easter holiday, are mixed with pagan traditions.
□ To the ancient Aztecs and Incas, buns were considered the sacred food of the gods.
□ While the Egyptians and Saxons offered them as sacrifices to their goddesses. The cross represented the four quarters of the moon to certain ancient cultures
□ Others believed it was a sign that held supernatural power to prevent sickness.
□ To the Romans, the cross represented the horns of a sacred ox. The word "bun" is derived from the ancient word "boun," used to describe this revered animal.
□ The Christian church adopted Hot Cross Buns during their early missionary efforts to pagan cultures. They re-interpreted the "cross" of icing which adorns the bun to signify the cross on which Jesus sacrificed His life.
□ Some historians date the origin of Hot Cross Buns back to the 12th century, when an Angelican monk was said to have placed the sign of the cross on the buns to honor Good Friday, known at that time as the "Day of the Cross."
□ In 1361, a monk named Father Thomas Rocliffe, was recorded to have made small spiced cakes stamped with the sign of the cross, to be distributed to the poor visiting the monastery at St. Albans on Good Friday. According to the scholar Harrowven, the idea proved so popular that he made the buns every year, carefully keeping his bun recipe secret.

Traditions: The Easter Bunny and Hot Cross Buns
The Easter Bunny
Rabbits are a powerful symbol of fertility and new life, and therefore, of Easter. The Easter Bunny, like Santa Claus, has become a popular children's character. But it may be that the Easter Bunny is something of a historical mistake. Hares were sacred to the pagan festival of Eostre. At some point, the hare was replaced by the rabbit (some say that this is because it is difficult to tell hares and rabbits, both long-eared mammals, apart).
Hot Cross Buns
Why the Name? One can relish the different flavors of hot cross buns that are added on in different proportions to make a perfect combo of sweet, spicy and fruity taste. These hot cross buns are baked at home in the oven and served hot. That is why they are called hot cross buns.
The custom of eating hot cross buns goes back to pre-Christian times, when pagans offered their god, Zeus, a cake baked in the form of a bull, with a cross upon it to represent its horns. Throughout the centuries, hot cross buns were made and eaten every Good Friday, and it was thought that they had miraculous curative powers. People hung buns from their kitchen ceilings to protect their households from evil for the year to come. Good Friday bread and buns were said never to go moldy. This was probably because the buns were baked so hard that there was no moisture left in the mixture for the mold to live on. Hot cross buns and bread baked on Good Friday were used in powdered form to treat all sorts of illnesses.

Worldwide Easter Celebrations
Religious services and other Easter celebrations vary throughout the regions of the world and even from country to country. In the United States, many "sunrise services" are held outside, often in gardens or beside lakes where baptisms (representing rebirth) can be held on Easter morning. Here are a few other ways in which Easter is celebrated:
Bulgaria - In Bulgaria, people don't hide their eggs -- they have egg fights! Whoever comes out of the game with an unbroken egg is the winner and assumed to be the most successful member of the family in the coming year. In another tradition, the oldest woman in the family rubs the faces of the children with the first red egg she has colored, symbolizing her wish that they have rosy cheeks, health and strength (much like the Easter egg).
Mexico - Easter and related holidays are colorful and lively in Mexico, where children actually smash eggs over each other's heads in the week before Lent begins! Fortunately, these eggs are filled with small pieces of paper rather than raw egg.
Germany - In Germany, eggs are dyed green on Maundy Thursday.
Greece - On Easter Sunday in Greece, there is a public procession. Red eggs (red for the blood of Christ) are tapped together while one person declares "Christ is risen" and the other replies "Truly He is risen."
United States - Parades are traditional in some U.S. cities. Atlantic City's 140-year-old parade is the oldest, and the promenade on New York's Fifth Avenue, immortalized in Irving Berlin's song, "Easter Parade," is perhaps the best known. The annual White House Easter Egg Roll takes place in the nation's capitol city on Easter Monday. (You'll learn more about this tradition on the next page.)
England - In England, in Hallaton (in the County of Leicestershire), every Easter Monday, there is the Hare Pie Scramble and Bottle Kicking. The story goes that a woman was saved by a hare running across the path of a bull on Easter Monday hundreds of years ago. As a token of her appreciation, she bequeathed a piece of land to the rector. The sole condition to this bequest was that the rector have a hare pie made to be distributed to parishioners together with a large quantity of ale every year.
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