Still a few days and then it’s Easter again, the ‘Feast of the Resurrection’. I love Easter. It’s a time for eating all the nicest things you can imagine with complete impunity! The story behind Easter is long, very long. If you don’t mind, I’ll skip the origin and history of it and leave this to the historians, scientists, theologians and so on, to describe.
What is certain, is that this is the time of searching for hidden dyed eggs and also the time of a rich Easter breakfast. Especially this breakfast is a tradition that’s fully honored in our house. To prepare myself already a little for this, I’ve made these cross buns (this also saves me time later on so this might come in handy too at a later stage). The cross bun has a long and interesting history which is certainly worth while to get further into.
In England the popular ‘hot cross buns’ are also known as Shrove Buns. Back then, these buns were baked just for Easter and more especially on Good Friday. Therefore, they were also called Good Friday buns. It is quite clear that this cross bun points to the cross suffering of Jesus, but that it should be eaten hot, is the association with the hot offerings of the Germanic tribes. The popular belief thought that those who didn’t eat ‘hot cross buns’ on Good Friday, would die in the course of that year. These buns were even given to cattle as a remedy for diseases. Obviously, you would now think that the origin of the bun lies in England, in fact, this is not the case.
Let’s go back to the year 8 B.C., four years before the birth of Jesus. Let’s have a look at what happened then in the entire (at that time) non-Christian population in Europe, the Northern and Central European nations to be exact. Every year at springtime (which met on the first Saturday after March 21st and was called ‘Sunnabend’), it was habbit that people gathered out of their villages and everyone who was able to, collected timber, piled it around an oak tree and set it on fire. While people sat around the fire, they kneeled and beseeched ‘Sunna’ (their goddess of the dawn), to return the expected coming spring days. This was the time of the spring solstice, when winter ends and the warm spring months start (interestingly is that the German word for Saturday is ‘Sonnabend’, which is a direct link to the Saturday night on which the goddess Sunna was worshiped). Having sacrificed to the goddess of Spring on this Saturday night, the people then retreated into the next morning. Then, some time before dawn, they met each other again outside, with their faces toward the east, toward the rising sun, giving thanks to their goddess Sunna for bringing back the spring days. This day, the first Sunday after the 21st of March was a holiday, a day of joy with many celebrations and games. One of these games was the search for hidden dyed eggs. Although the eggs ranged from color, the main colors were red and gold, symbolizing the rays of the sun. Lots of eggs were sacrified to the spring goddess and others were eaten. The egg was regarded as the sign of germinating life in spring. Also hot cross buns were baked and sacrificed to the goddess to give what was needed to welcome a ‘new’ life for an entire new year.
All things considered, you can say that the cross bun is not just a sandwich, but it’s obvious, me preparing them, has nothing to do it with a sacrifice or anything like that. I think Easter is a beautiful occasion to present them as a variation on the breakfast table because as for the appearance I believe there’s nothing to argue about. They’re wonderfully tender in texture and the addition of the ingredients, raisins, apple, zest of lemon and orange and not to mention the cinnamon give it a great taste. Spread with a large dot of butter with or without jam or some other sweets, this bun gives Easter an extra momentum. Additional impetus brings more and new vitality, with the result that the full (Easter)circle is turned again.
Have a happy and above all delicious Easter!!