As we observe Holy Thursday today, we think of how Jamaicans everywhere celebrate the Lenten season. The period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Monday has historical, religious and cultural significance. Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday are all national holidays, with special services observed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Many activities are planned for the Easter weekend in Jamaica. Special beach trips with friends or church groups are highly anticipated. Of course, food is a very important part of all celebrations. Many like to view this period as a time when they should abstain from activities thought to be worldly or impure β€” a cleansing and renewing of sorts. Many give up red meat during Lent, which led to fish being commonly eaten during this period. Fried sprat is especially favoured during this time. Then, of course, there is the Jamaican Easter Bun.

Hot Cross Buns

How bun and cheese came to play such a significant role in this holy event is steeped in history. It is based on a tradition that made its way to the United Kingdom many years ago. In the UK, small, round, and slightly sweet buns were made with a cross cut into the tops β€” hence the name, hot cross buns.

Sale and consumption of the buns were supposedly forbidden in England, except during specific times, one of which was Good Friday. The cross came to symbolise the crucifixion of Jesus. The Hot Cross Buns nursery rhyme was thought to be used by pedlars announcing their selling of the treats. Many grew up singing the nursery rhyme in Jamaica:

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 nursery rhyme and the buns made their way to Jamaica via the British, who carried their traditions with them when they colonised the island in the mid-1600s. Over time, Jamaicans of course, put their spin on the custom. Whether homemade or store-bought, the Jamaican version of this bun has evolved, giving us the popular spice bun, made in loaf form and eaten with cheese.

Jamaicans and Easter Buns

Although you can have your loaf bun any time of the year and any way you like, Jamaicans are usually particular about having the loaf buns with cheese at Easter. Not just any cheese, however. The bun and cheese experience can only be fully appreciated with the perfect slice(s) of Jamaican β€œtin cheese.”

While the consumption of bun and cheese during this holy period is not the main feature, it is certainly a very important part of our Easter celebrations. For the weeks leading up to Easter, store shelves are laden with buns. It is hard to miss the aroma of buns wafting through the aisles, a sweet reminder to get your Easter buns – not that one is ever needed.

The Best Buns Around

Jamaicans are sure to stock up to ensure they have enough for family and friends. It was typical too for Jamaicans to buy buns to take or ship to family and friends overseas. Now Jamaicans away from home can easily order Easter Buns online.

National Baking Company has been baking the delicious buns for more than 60 years. We now carry buns under our other brands. You can place your order for buns and other products online at any time!

National Baking Company wishes a happy and Holy Easter to Jamaicans at home and abroad. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your Easter traditions and special memories.