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Hot Cross Buns

I still remember my piano lessons, which began at age three (and ended soon after!) The first song I learned was “Hot Cross Buns”. I recently taught it to my six year old son, when he became aware of these treats, which appeared (ironically) in stores as soon as Lent began. Hot Cross Buns at Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly, April 2010, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 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! The commonly known (and now heard throughout my house) cry actually appeared in print no earlier than 1798, published in London in that year’s Christmas Box. An earlier version, however, appeared in 1733 in in Poor Robin’s Almanack, and ran as follows, “Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs With one or two a penny hot cross buns.” A vintage illustration of a Hot Cross Bun seller. The price is stated quite clearly in this verse and remarkably, remained constant for over 200 years—a fact pointed out by Charles Dickens’s son in his 1889 edition of All the Year Round. Buns marked with a cross on top had been known since the time of the ancient Greeks and the spiced, fruited buns now associated with the name, were once sold throughout England, where the cry of street hawkers could be heard all down the streets. They were, however, by (more…)