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Whether on this day or another, Hot Cross Buns are delicious any day of the year. These little buns made from yeast dough are usually a bit sweet, often contain some spices (such as cinnamon) and may be found with additions such as raisins, currants or other dried fruits.

National Hot Cross Bun Day encourages people to consider the roots of the hot cross bun, and to take a day to enjoy hot cross buns!

History of National Hot Cross Bun Day

The story of Hot Cross Buns is a bit difficult to trace, as a few different theories of its origins exist. One story goes that a 13th century Anglican monk baked these buns to share with others, and marked them with a cross in honor of Good Friday. They may not have yet contained the sweetness and gentle spices that are now enjoyed in them today, but this is likely where they got their start.

By the 16th century, these buns had gently made their way to Elizabethan England, where in order to keep them sacred the queen actually passed a law limiting the sale of the buns to Christmas, funerals and the Friday before Easter. The law was too difficult to enforce, however, and was eventually rescinded, making it legal to bake and eat Hot Cross Buns any time of the year–which was great news for lovers of this little treat.

Some people who were highly superstitious believed that these buns had medicinal or healing powers. Some even believed that the buns baked on Good Friday would never go stale (or at least for the first year). Others thought that Hot Cross Buns baked especially on this day could be hung from the rafters in an effort to ward off evil spirits. Others spoke of these magical buns protecting sailors from shipwrecks while on sea voyages.

In any case, whether they have actual spiritual powers or their powers are limited to simply making the mouth water in anticipation of eating them, these little buns have a fun history that continues to bring enjoyment today.

Although hot cross buns pre-date Christianity, these tasty little sweet treats have been historically only eaten on Good Friday as a Christian symbol of the crucifixion, marking the end of the religious season called Lent.

However, in many places Hot Cross Buns are now widely available and eaten throughout the various seasons of the year. Which is why this delicious bun is deserving of its own entire day simply for celebrating it in all of its delightful glory.

It’s time to Celebrate National Hot Cross Bun Day!

How to Celebrate National Hot Cross Bun Day

Celebrating National Hot Cross Bun Day is a fairly simple act that can be made into fun little family or workplace traditions! Try these ideas for enjoying this day:

Eat Some Hot Cross Buns

Although they may be a bit harder to find during certain times of the year, hot cross buns are a delicious treat that should be enjoyed on this day! Ask ahead and a bakery might be happy to special order them for the day. Or, if they haven’t heard of National Hot Cross Bun Day, let them know it’s coming up and they might just make a special batch in honor of the day.

Learn to Make Hot Cross Buns

Although it’s a little fussy due to the involvement of yeast in the recipe, making Hot Cross Buns at home is the perfect way to pay homage to this day! And they will taste so much better when served fresh and hot, rather than those buns that have been made somewhere else and brought home.

When making the buns, a couple of options exist for creating the quintessential cross on the top of the buns. Traditionally, the cross was often created simply by making a knife imprint in the dough before baking, or by fashioning a cross out of thin pieces of dough. Today, however, people often like to make things just a bit sweeter by creating the cross out of a line of frosting made from powdered sugar.

Sing the Hot Cross Buns Song!

Almost any preschool or kindergarten child will know the lyrics to this little song and be able to join in together in singing it. And this is the ideal day to do it, too. There are, of course, a few different verses and versions, but the basics go like this:

Hot cross buns
Hot cross buns
One a penny
Two a penny
Hot cross buns

There’s also a verse using the phrases “Give them to your daughters, Give them to your sons”. But really, it can be sung in any way that is preferred, because it is all meant to be in good fun!

Get Creative with Hot Cross Buns Recipes

Even with their religious significance, Hot Cross Buns certainly don’t need to be average or boring! Just a dash of creativity can mean making them in all kinds of creative ways that will please friends, family and neighbors alike. Try these varieties of Hot Cross Bun recipes that will make them seem truly magical:

  • Chocolate Hot Cross Buns. Satisfy that need for chocolate while still celebrating National Hot Cross Bun Day! These lovely little buns are made with a typical recipe base, plus adding some cinnamon, cocoa powder and dark chocolate pieces. Create the white crosses with either reserved dough that doesn’t contain cocoa, or with a frosting made from powdered sugar and butter.
  • Bacon Hot Cross Buns. These delightful sweet and savory buns are made with maple syrup in the dough, dressed up with caramelized onions, sage, chives and fontina cheese. Then, the cross on top is made with delicious bacon brushed in more maple syrup.
  • Sourdough Hot Cross Buns. Inspired by the Aussies, this treat uses a sourdough starter instead of traditional yeast to make the buns. And don’t forget dried fruits such as raisins, sultanas or even dried cranberries.
  • Hot Cross S’mores Buns. For some outdoor fun with Hot Cross Buns, try using them in place of graham crackers to create a s’mores like treat. Add chocolate and toasted marshmallows. If there’s no campfire around, a kitchen blow torch works well for caramelizing the marshmallows.

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