Hot cross buns

"Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns!

"One a penny two a penny — Hot cross buns

"If you have no daughters, give them to your sons

"One a penny two a penny — Hot cross buns."

Child's nursery rhyme

Small, spicy yeast rolls decorated with a cross are a Good Friday tradition and are showing up in grocery stores and bakeries. 

Hot cross buns were among the earliest Easter treats, made by European monks and given to the poor during Lent, according to

The treat is surrounded by folklore, superstition and mystique, such as:

  • Buns baked and served on Good Friday won't spoil, and when taken to sea they ward off shipwreck.
  • Share with a pal and ensure another year of friendship.
  • Healing and fire-protecting properties and the ability to ward off evil are also attributed to the buns.

Even though the mark of the cross is symbolic of the Crucifixion, there may be links to ancient peoples, too. The goddess of spring may have been honored with bread marked to represent the four quarters of the moon. Roman, Greek, Mexican and Peruvian are among the cultures with similar customs of marking bread for sacrifice

Coming Friday: More on hot cross buns

Sources: Arizona Daily Star archives and