Cultural imperialism and Christmas

Last Tuesday, on the 17th of December, we went to Lidl’s for some bits and hot cross buns were for sale.

Every year for the past decade or so I have this moan about supermarkets selling ‘traditional’ hot cross buns at Christmas.  That (and calling every kind of cheese in existence ‘Cheddar’) really pisses me off about supermarkets beyond any normal level of annoyance.

Although raised in a Christian tradition, I’m not a believer so I’m probably not entitled to care, but it feels like cultural vandalism.

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Good Friday comes this month: the old woman runs.
With one a penny, two a penny “hot cross buns”.
Whose virtue is, if you believe what’s said,
They’ll not grow mouldy like the common bread.

Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1733.

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It is a centuries old tradition to have hot cross buns at Easter.  Not Christmas.  As you can see from the above quote, older than some references claim:

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Throughout England, special buns, marked with a cross, were made on Good Friday and eaten toasted for breakfast; they were referred to as ‘Cross buns’ or ‘Good Friday buns’.  There are references to the custom early in the 19th century, so phrased as to imply that it had been current for several generations (Opie and Tatem, 1989: 177).  The modern unvarying phrase ‘hot cross buns’ derives from the 18th-century street vendors’ cry:

Hot Cross Buns! Hot Cross Buns!
Give them to your daughters, give them to your sons!
One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns!

A Dictionary of English Folklore, 2003.

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It does leave me wondering why I am so annoyed about it if it is not my problem.  But it does give me some empathy for those who don’t want soul-less and capitalist cultural imperialism thrust upon them, telling them their values, beliefs, traditions and way of life are wrong because some foreigner or rich corporation says so.  If I am so grumpy about this, what must it be like when your entire way of life is being challenged?

I have no faith, I am not religious, but I don’t think commercialism should be allowed to steal my Christmas, nor other people’s traditions.

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