Sometimes called Easter buns, hot cross buns are a big part of Jamaican culture, just like several other representative foods such as saltfish or ackee.
The concept dates back to ancient Babylon, when cross buns were offered to Ishtar, the pagan queen of heaven.
Ancient Greeks made similar cakes to honour the moon.
The tradition found its way to England, where cross buns were eaten on Good Friday, with the cross symbolizing the crucifixion of Jesus.
When the British plundered Jamaica, of course they brought the custom to the island.
Over time though the English version of the cross bun transitioned to the Jamaican version, with some key differences.
Jamaica’s version is made with molasses, while the buns from England were made with honey.
In Jamaica, you eat the bun with cheese, a combination that has become ingrained in island culture.
British custom has waned when it comes to eating hot cross buns as fasting food on Good Friday, but in Jamaica the practice is as prevalent as ever.
Today the custom is seen as more Jamaican than British. And eating cheese is now a year-round practice, while the bun and cheese dish is prevalent primarily during the Easter holiday.
By Neo Makeba
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