One of the most significant Christian observances of the year, Easter has been celebrated across the British Isles for well over a thousand years. Several fascinating Easter traditions have arisen over the centuries, with many of them involving food.
Together with the online supermarket British Corner Shop, we examine some of the most beloved Easter treats enjoyed across the UK and give you the inside tip on how you can enjoy them with the ones you love wherever you are in Europe.
‘One a penny, two a penny…’
There’s nothing better on a crisp spring morning than a hot cross bun, slathered with butter and served alongside a cup of tea. These scrumptious buns containing spices, raisins and orange peel, topped with a pastry cross, are a Good Friday tradition (but go down just as well on many other days!)
Like many food-based traditions, there are competing theories as to where and when hot cross buns first appeared. However, one compelling theory identifies a 14th-century monk of St Albans Abbey, Thomas Rocliffe, as the first to write the recipe down. According to local legend, Rocliffe distributed the buns to the poor at Easter with the baked goods fast gaining popularity.
What we do know for sure is that hot cross buns were not only mentioned in collections of London’s street songs and ballads by the mid-18th century, but regulations also existed forbidding their sale outside of certain periods – bakers could be fined for doing so!
This is not to say that hot cross buns haven’t evolved over time. While many enjoy buns that stick to the original recipe, retailers such as Marks & Spencer have introduced their own scrumptious varieties that include cheese, chocolate, and apple, as well as those made with vegan ingredients.
On the hunt
While many consider hot cross buns the highlight of the Easter period, others are bursting with excitement for the Easter egg hunt, traditionally carried out on the morning of Easter Sunday.
Eggs have long been considered a symbol of new life and rebirth, and it’s only natural that they found their way into the commemoration of the Easter story. Decorating hard-boiled eggs dyed bright colours is a treasured tradition in several European cultures, including that of the British Isles. Even more anticipated is the traditional hunt, where children are let loose to search the garden for colourful treats to fill their Easter baskets with.
These days, of course, chocolate Easter eggs are the star of the show, with 80 million sold across the United Kingdom each year. While early chocolate Easter eggs were created for the French royal court in the mid to late 18th century, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the first chocolate eggs were created by the firm J. S. Fry & Sons in England.
If you’re in the mood for something a little fancier, Marks & Spencer have debuted their own spread of appetising Easter offerings. Alongside the range of milk chocolate eggs, perfect for hiding, there are luxury offerings that infuse the milk chocolate with delicious flavours, such as orange, latte and peanut. Seeking to reconnect with treasured childhood friends? The M&S Easter collection also features Percy Pig and Colin the Caterpillar. Everyone is a kid at heart!
Love a bit of lamb?
If you’ve got any room left after the hot cross buns and the Easter eggs, for many families Easter culminates with a lamb roast.
Christians have traditionally eaten lamb at Easter to remember the story of Jesus Christ’s death and rebirth, while for Jews lamb symbolises the Passover story of the flight from Egypt.
Now, many love to sit down for a lamb roast with plenty of roast vegetables. Gravy is utterly essential, but you’ll find that everyone has their own special recipe, using a particular gravy base. Lamb and mint sauce is also a match made in heaven.
Once lunch is finished, and the dishes are done, who fancies a cuppa?
The home of British Easter
From hot cross buns and Easter eggs to your favourite sort of tea, British Corner Shop has Easter organised for you. With a warehouse based in the EU and VAT-free delivery, it has thousands of items for those looking for their favourite UK brands.
With Easter Sunday falling on April 9, now is the time to order a basket of your favourite goodies to ensure you can spend more of this special time with family and friends, sharing what makes a British Easter so special.