IT’S TIME FOR HOT CROSS BUNS PIX CREDIT: VISHAL MESTA
A common and much love practice of Maundy Thursday is that of partaking of hot cross buns. This ritual also goes hand in hand with the joy children and adults have when they buy and have these treats specific to this solemn season, signifying the breaking of the Lenten fast
“One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns...”is not only a thrilling rhyme but every bite of the soft bread is a legend tale taking every Catholic back to the time when Lord Jesus broke the bread at the Passover feast among his disciples and shared it with them the night before he was Crucified on Friday.
Apart from symbolising Christ’s body, the mystery also symbolises the breaking of the fast on Maundy Thursday after 40 days of fasting. The bun specifically marks the end of Lent. The cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus and the spices inside signifies the spices used to embalm Jesus at his burial. Not all places have the same kind of Hot Cross Buns. Many people bake them at home plain, while some add a flavor to it with raisins; some also call it a spiced sweet bun due a trickle of sugar coating. In ancient Greek, people would bake cakes and mark a cross on it instead of bun. In present days however the fasting isn’t observed quite fervently, but in the olden days it was different. If you ask your grandparents to tell you stories of these buns, there are thousands. Many Goans buy bulk orders especially to distribute in churches. Parents also buy these buns on Maundy Thursday for their children’s delight. Hot Cross buns have known to have increased curiosity levels in them. Most children are amazed by the thought of actually looking at a hot cross bun after hearing about it in their famous nursery rhyme and stories. Priscilla Dorris Janarthanan says, “My daughter is all grown up now but as a kid I remember buying for her a story book that had a story about the hot cross buns, the picture depicted looked really tasty and hot, she used to insist that I buy them for her every Maundy Thursday until she turned 8. That’s when she gradually understood the real meaning behind the hot cross buns.” No one knows whether the meaning behind the Nursery Rhyme Hot Cross Buns is a myth or a reality during the 19 century. However, it was a trend in those earlier days for people to yell aloud and sell their products in an open market. It was known that the poem was a loud cry from the bakers of that time yelling at customers to buy their buns. Some myths also suggest that the lyrical song of the Hot Cross Buns was sung by the baker’s child begging people to buy them. Aideen Nunes says that as a child her grandmother would tell her this story about how the bakers often suffered a loss and hence on Maundy Thursday began selling their bred and buns with a mark of the cross asking people to buy them in faith, this would give them a penny to feed their own children. Like these there are several myths around these buns. Although Hot Cross Buns are meant to be eaten on Thursday, some believe that it has to be eaten on Good Friday. This is because a legend goes back in1361where a monk at St Albans Abbey, developed a recipe called an ‘Alban Bun’ and distributed the bun to the local poor on Good Friday. Some old folks also believe that Queen Elizabeth I had forbidden the sale of Hot Cross Buns and only allowed it during funerals, Good Friday or during Christmas. Therefore there is no complete consensus on which day is appropriate to have the Hot Cross Buns. Goans however, strongly believe that Maundy Thursday is the right day as it’s also breaking of the fast. Owner of Confeitaria 31 De Janeiro Portuguese and Goan Bakery Gletta Mascrenhas says that they started making Hot Cross Buns 60 years ago. “Though now it’s very common to just eat the buns, earlier it was specifically only eaten on Maundy Thursday as a sign of fast breaking among all Catholics,” she says. “Oh how I love to bake these buns for the people, this is the best time because it doesn’t only feel good I simply feel blessed. There are so many people who ask us for orders and we make sure to give all of them,” expresses Gletta. For everyone, the Hot Cross Bun is not only a meal to break the fast but also an emotion towards the Holy Week and a preparation for redemption. A lot of churches in Goa will be distributing the Hot Cross Buns on Maundy Thursday and people take part in the mystery of Christ.
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