This coming week Christians around the world are celebrating Easter. A moveable feast, Easter occurs the First Sunday after the Full Moon following the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. It is late this year, just like Spring.
Marking the end of Lent, Holy Week leads to Good Friday which commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ who died for our sins on the cross. On Easter Sunday we celebrate His resurrection. Easter is also linked to the Jewish Passover by symbolism and where it falls on the calendar. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but decorating Easter eggs is a common motif.
In the Western world, Easter takes on secular customs, such as egg hunts and the Easter Bunny. The English tradition of wearing new clothes at Easter would have been gleefully followed by the women of Downton Abbey, although I am not so sure about the Dowager. The Easter Bonnet, made famous by Judy Garland in Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade is the part of this tradition, which was to keep in harmony with the renewal of the year and the promise of spiritual renewal and redemption. Any excuse to shop.
Below we look hot cross buns and my Granny’s recipe for sweet buns and my favorite hot cross buns.
Abbey Cooks Entertain has Easter Recipes
With 220 traditional Downton era recipes with a modern twist, this is a great book to create some simple or complex dishes for your Mary or Anna. Book sales help offset my costs in food, equipment and time to keep bringing you new dishes each week.
My Easter recipes include:
While the book is available on Amazon, you can only get a signed copy here on my site.
If you don’t have an eReader I would suggest the PDF version which allows you to print recipes as you go, if you wish. Buy one for yourself, gift to another. All you have to do is email the download link to your loved ones.
Why Do we Eat Hot Cross Buns at Easter? A History
Hot cross buns have come a long way since its humble beginning. Many cultures such as the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used to make sweet and spiced breads during the onset of spring to celebrate the end of winter and the start of a new season. However, it is said that the Anglo-Saxons were the ones to create cross buns as an offering to their goddess Eostre (the term ‘Easter’ is believed to be originated from ‘Eostre’) so that the year would be bestowed with fertility. The cross was made to indicate the four phases of the moon and also the four seasons in the year. The Egyptians and Greeks also marked the buns with the symbol of ox horns, which over the course of time transformed into a cross. Many regions across Europe too started making cross buns. In Sue Ellen Thompson’s book called Holiday Symbols and Customs, it is mentioned, “When archaeologists excavated the ancient city of Herculaneum in southwestern 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.”
According to some, the festival of spring and fertility was also celebrated by the ancient Jews and it was called Pascha, the Hebrew word for Passover. Much later it came to be known as Easter, from the pagans. With the rise of Christianity, many pagan customs and practices were reinterpreted to give them a new meaning, such as the cross on the buns began to symbolise the crucifixion of Christ, and the old association of fertility and rebirth became a part of the Christian’s Easter celebrations as the rebirth of Christ.
According to another theory, the origin of hot cross buns dates back to the 12th century, when an Anglican monk named Father Thomas Rocliffe made small spiced cakes stamped with the cross to honour the ‘day of the cross.’