This short article about Wales was written by J. R. Nichols. Click here to read a random post!
Author Maria Johnson – who is originally from North Wales – and I have what I hope will be the first of many wonderful chats about some of the differences between her culture and mine.
As you may know, I am blessed to co-host The Christian Indie Writers’ Podcast, which was born from a desire to keep our writing group together after my move to Florida some years ago. It has been so fun watching the podcast community’s growth, which is especially evident in the chat during the weekly Youtube livestream. The warm and wonderful Indies who tune in every Friday hail from many different countries, and noting distinctions among our respective cultures has turned participating in our chat into quite the educational experience.
Inspired by some of these fun discussions, I linked up last week via Facebook messenger with author Maria Johnson – who is originally from North Wales – to have what I hope will be the first of many wonderful chats about some of the differences between her culture and mine. As the Easter holiday had just passed, it seemed natural that we would discuss some differences in the way we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I showed up eager to learn, and Maria showed up with a hot cross bun! It was a terrific surprise; I had sung about hot cross buns in school – and may have been given biscuit with frosting on it at some point in my life which a well-meaning Sunday School teacher had meant for “close enough” – but my new friend Maria showed up with an authentic bun (from England!), peppered throughout with sultanas (not raisins!), complete with short crust cross (no frosting!), for me to inspect.
Though sharing the delicious treat was impossible, Maria did share with me the beautiful legend of the hot cross bun – said to be born from a priest’s simple desire to feed the hungry whilst simultaneously sharing the good news of the gospel. She says the legend is not widely known, in spite of the appearance of the delicious baked goods at almost every Easter tea.
I have to admit some mild jealousy, or perhaps it was simply disappointment, as there is nothing in America quite like the hot cross bun, with its amazing historicity and unusual longevity in the British culture; but then I realized it is precisely this inability to homogenize a gigantic gaggle of stridently independent individuals which makes the American experience so unique. And, though I was unable to confidently state even one food item would be considered a traditional American Easter “staple,” I found great joy in discussing one cultural commonality – the desire to gather with friends and loved ones on a day of personal spiritual significance.
Our chat was informative and humbling, as I was reminded how big our world is by Maria’s obvious love for North Wales, a region I was woefully undereducated about prior to our conversation. I am often led to believe my country and its concerns are so important because of all the attention the USA gets in world headlines, but in fact, the world is a lot bigger than the headlines give credence to. It was fun to share my feelings of shamefaced ignorance with the gentle Maria as they happened, and for her to soothe me with her kind understanding as she witnessed my awakening. I think the most shocking moment was when each of us realized she could drive to Scotland in the amount of time it would take me to drive to Tennessee!
Inspired by Wales…
This short article about Wales would not be possible without Maria taking time to speak with me about her experiences; it was so wonderful to make a more intimate virtual connection with my new friend from a far away corner of the world! I encourage you to check out Maria’s website, Wonderful Reader, to learn more about her as well as to get a free sample of her book, “Lottie’s Locket!” I can’t wait until our next chat about Transatlantic Traditions!
* I’ve since found an amazing amount of information and methods for making hot cross buns at home, including this video (which uses a dough “piping” technique for the cross, and includes rum-soaked currants). If that seems “too fancy,” try my Dump Cake!