Written by: Lourieke Haller
Article source: JOY! Magazine

Hot cross buns are now for sale everywhere – and everyone, whether they are Christian or not, relish these sweet spiced pastries that Christians traditionally celebrate Easter with. However, with stacked shelves of chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs in abundance, Easter is going the same way as Christmas, our other great Christian festival that is being stripped of its Christian significance in our secular-humanistic society. Few people still know what the Christian symbolism and origin of hot cross buns is.

Symbolism of hot cross buns
The bread represents the Communion, the cross on the bun symbolises the crucifixion of Jesus, and the fragrant spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves – represent the spices with which Jesus was embalmed in the tomb. The raisins in the dough are symbolic of Christ’s body in the grave and the risen dough symbolises His resurrection from the dead.

This symbolism offers us the ideal conversation starters to talk about the Gospel with our children, family, friends, or even strangers in the supermarket.

Origin and history
Most sources agree that hot cross buns dates back to the early 1700s, but according to one version, hot cross buns originated in the 14th century in St. Albans in Hertfordshire, England. A monk of the St. Albans Monastery, Thomas Rocliffe, apparently developed a recipe for the “Alban Buns”, which he distributed amongst the poor on Good Friday.

The first reliable reference to Easter buns appears in an eighteenth century text, Poor Robin’s Almanack, 1733, stating, “Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one or two a penny hot cross buns” – used by street vendors to sell their hot cross buns.

In 1592, Queen Elizabeth I made an order that hot cross buns could no longer be sold and enjoyed on just any old day, except on Good Friday, Christmas, or at funerals. They were just too special. Hot cross buns are still traditionally enjoyed in Britain and other commonwealth countries such as South Africa, Canada, and Australia on Good Friday.

Evangelism ideas for Easter
Although the cross on the hot cross buns is only decorative for most people, it reminds us as Christians of Christ’s victory on the Cross. Do try out the following evangelism ideas for Easter this year:

  • Hand out free hot cross buns and good coffee in, for example, an old-age home and chat with people about the symbolism of the hot cross buns.
  • Invite neighbours in your suburb for an Easter egg hunt with their children. Serve coffee, tea, and hot cross buns. Invite your neighbours to your church’s Easter service.
  • Hand out free Easter eggs and pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with others.
  • Organise a photographic and art exhibition at Easter with Easter themes such as love, hope, or new life. Incorporate as many people as possible from the community. Advertise in stores, at schools, in the local newspaper. Have a festive evening where everyone is invited and hand out prizes for the best entries. Talk about the true meaning of Easter.
  • Community choir: Invite friends who are not yet Christians to be part of the Easter choir. Not only will the music convey the Gospel, but it could strengthen the feeling of community and help lonely people to make friends.
  • Outdoor events: Join forces with other churches in your area and organise an outdoor Easter service so that passers-by can hear or even join in the service. Offer coffee and hot cross buns after the service.

Whatever the origin of hot cross buns, use these raisin-studded delights to keep the meaning of Easter – the death and resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus Christ – alive in our society.

Banting hot cross buns


  • 1½ cup almond flour
  • 1½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup xylitol
  • 250 g soft butter
  • 6 Nulaid eggs (separated)
  • ½ cup dried currants
  • ½ cup dried sultanas

Cross on the bun

  • 2 tsp coconut flour
  • 4 tsp water


  1. Grease a large baking tray with butter and preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl, add butter and mix
  3. Add egg yolks and mix in
  4. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into mixture
  5. Shape the dough into round balls and place on baking tray, paint with egg or milk
  6. Make a paste with coconut flour and water and paint cross on bun with toothpick
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, then cover with tinfoil and bake for a further 10 minutes until bun springs back when touched
  8. Store buns in the refrigerator and eat within two to three days.

* Recipe from www.thelifestylecafe.com

Feature image: unsplash.com

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