Today I’ve been hanging up a hot cross bun and planting parsley. I know I have to stop harping on about what would have been, but pre Other Life shenanigans, my day was planned as an epic adventure of gossip, local legend, baked goods and marble slaloms. And while the replacement has given me four days’ worth of breakfast, and a future garnish, I can’t help but feel a little deflated.
But enough of what might have been. Today is Good Friday, and had I paid attention in school, I could have told you what this means in terms of the Easter cycle. But as I spent most of my time thinking about youth theatre, chocolate, and boys, you’ll have to look it up. In terms of other folklore, today is the day when if you hang a freshly-baked-on-the-day hot cross bun, it will never go stale and will become imbued with magical healing properties.
‘Don’t knead’ in bold was the best bit of the hot cross bun recipe I used. For a brief moment, I felt the need to sling a towel across my shoulders and stick out my thumb. Other than that, it was a long process with two proves and a lot of stickiness. Eventually, my buns turned out a bit like my plum shuttles, except flatter, despite having actually risen this time. In my naiveté, I’d thought the crosses would broaden on baking but instead they stayed looking a little peevish. Incidentally, it’s said that each segment of the bun represents a lunar quarter, with the whole bun being the full moon. But despite my lack of baking prowess, they smelled proper in the oven, and smothered in apricot jam, they turned out to be rather moreish.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been visualising stringing up a bun since I read about the practice over a year ago. I’ve even had the perfect hook in my kitchen ready and waiting. The bun would have to share it with a string of plastic potatoes but I was sure none of them would mind. Using a big pink wool needle, I sewed string through and around the bun, then teetered on a kitchen chair as I looped the end onto the hook. The bun was not as round as it had been in my imagination, and I’d used different string, but as wish fulfilment goes…
So while the buns were proving the first time, I indulged in a bit more folklore. Sticking two fingers up at the Devil, I planted some herbs. I felt particularly confident in my defiance given that on Good Friday it’s said not only can’t the Devil mess with the soil, he also can’t mess with your immortal soul for planting parsley. And it’s also said that only a witch or a rogue can germinate parsley. I’ll keep you posted.
Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books
Vickery, R. (2019) Vickery’s Folk Flora, An A-Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson