Folk Traditions and Rituals #23, #24

Custom: The Butterworth Charity Sixpence
About: Started by Joshua Butterworth in 1887, the Butterworth charity awards a sixpence to up to 21 poor widows in the church parish, and hot cross buns to all children in attendance. As we no longer use sixpences, over the years its become tradition to distribute what they would be worth in today’s money – around 20p. However this year’s sole claimant got lucky, as the church had found an old sixpence and awarded her that instead. And they gave everyone in attendance a hot cross bun, not just the children!


Custom: The Widow’s Son Bun Ceremony
About: The ceremony is held in an old east end boozer, built on the site of a widow’s house. The story goes that the widow had a son who went to war and asked for a fresh hot cross bun for his return at Easter. She baked one for him, but he sadly didn’t return from the battlefield. Every year that followed, she dutifully baked another, and kept them all strung up in a net hanging from the ceiling. The pub continues the custom today, annually hanging a bun from the ceiling above the bar.


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