Myths and Traditions Surrounding Hot Cross Buns

hot cross buns homemade

Nothing quite beats a warm Hot Cross Bun served with melted butter that oozes over the surface. For many the arrival of Easter and the beginning of spring can be symbolised in the arrival of Hot Cross Buns.

These lightly spiced and fruity buns filled with raisins and currents will appear on supermarket shelves and on adverts on our TV's from as early as February. Although we have been enjoying these little balls of happiness for as long as we can remember, the exact history of the Hot Cross Bun is not 100% known.

With so many myths and traditions surrounding the legend of the Hot Cross Bun, we aim to get to the bottom and work out, what really is the Hot Cross Bun!?

For those unfortunate few that have not had chance yet to sample the joys of a Hot Cross Bun, this treat is a lightly spiced bun with a piped cross on the top, with the different flavours of the cinnamon and raisins used to create excitement with every bite.


Traditionally enjoyed during Lent and the week leading up to Easter, versions of the Hot Cross Bun that we are familiar with were popular even in Ancient Greece. Yet with the exact origin unknown, many superstitions and myths have come about. Let us take a quick look at them.

It was thought that the first person to mark the buns with the cross was a 12th century monk. Back in the 12th century had this myth been the truth, the cross would have been made from pastry or by slicing the dough before it went into the oven.


Some people believe that Hot Cross Buns can expel bad spirits, with some religious fanatics viewing the angelical cross on the top of the bun as a protector against evil spirits. Many feel that by hanging a hot cross bun in their kitchen, they can protect their home from evil spirits that surface around the Easter period.

Hot Cross Buns can create friendships. A tale has been told that friends who bake and enjoy a hot cross bun together, will enjoy many long and happy years together in one another’s company.


They could only be purchased on Good Friday. The time was 1592 and monarch at the time Queen Elizabeth I decided that Hot Cross Buns were too sacred to be enjoyed every day and instead chose to limit them only to Good Friday. With Hot Cross Buns being restricted to one day a year, many people took up baking their own buns at home with the worry of being caught in their illegal activity.

They can remain fresh for a whole year. It was once believed that the dough inside of a Hot Cross Bun can remain fresh for a whole year. This idea is linked to the religious sentiment and the pipped cross. With the body of Christ showing no signs of decay after his crucifixion, religious enthusiasts interpreted this as meaning that the Hot Cross Bun would never go stale.

The Truth

The truth of the spiced matter is, hot cross buns were a festive treat made from all those yummy ingredients that they had been unable to eat during Lent. There is a religious element in the meaning behind the Hot Cross Bun, with the dough and the spices added to resemble the embalming of Jesus; with records dating back as early as the 1700's.

Regardless of the history and which version sounded the most exciting, why not get baking your own Hot Cross Buns this Easter to celebrate the end of Lent. If you are wanting a super simple recipe to follow, take a look at our guide to making Hot Cross Buns at home.