Good Friday fun – Bun Day, our Australian tradition

Good Friday, according to the bible, was the day Jesus was crucified. I don’t know why the day was labelled as good but I look forward to it even more than Christmas. When I was a lot younger my Dad used to play Pontius Pilate in the Passion play our local church would put on. Pontius is known as the Roman leader who washed his hands of Jesus and told the crowd baying for the man’s blood that ‘the responsibility is now yours’.  Dad would always find us in the audience and point directly at us – tongue in cheek of course.

Once we’d watched the passion play to the bitter end we would invite all of our friends back to our home and have what came to be known as ‘Bun Day’. Everyone would bring trays of hot cross buns and we’d whack them in the oven and serve them up with butter, jam and a lot of champagne. Our backyard would be filled with laughter and clusters of friends chatting away as they munched hot cross buns under the shade of our big gum tree. Good Friday indeed.

Our backyard is full of art and cacti - my Dad even built that cabin from scrap

Our backyard is full of art and cacti – my Dad even built that cabin from scrap

We don’t go to church anymore but Bun Day is still going strong. Here’s why:

Both of my parents are artists and excellent cooks and our kitchen truly is the soul of our house. Dad’s speciality is pasta and he serves up a Bun Day treat every year. His father was Italian so he knows a few secrets – and here’s one I can share. Take a side of beef and roast it in the oven till it’s just right. While that’s humming away make a tomato based pasta sauce and keep it simmering. Now the best part. Take the roast from the oven and stick it in the sauce, cover and put on a very low heat for at least four hours or until a fair amount of the roast meat has disintegrated into the pasta sauce. Boil up some pasta and throw the meaty sauce over the top – serve with slices of roast meat. You are supposed to eat fish on Good Friday, but this recipe is very tempting as an alternative.

This year Mum and Dad are planning a high tea bun day

This year Mum and Dad are planning a high tea bun day

Once everyone polishes off a plate or two of the scrumptious pasta, Mum springs into action. She brings out tiers and trays of home made cakes that would tempt Ghandi to have seconds. Then while everyone’s digesting their Good Friday meal she’ll start stringing up the best part of Bun Day – the pinata.

This tradition came about after my brother and I got in trouble in a town called Yunderup where my family had a holiday house. The next door neighbours place was usually empty and they had a barn shaped jetty that was filled with ropes hanging from the rafters. We thought it would be a great idea to cover one of the rope ends with twists of newspaper, set it alight and smash it with a cricket bat while yelling ‘pinata!’ at the top of our lungs. We got a right hiding for that but at least it gave Mum some inspiration.

Every year she makes a papier mache pig, cow or donkey and fills it with lollies. All the kids (and some adults) take turns being blindfolded, spun thrice and pushed forward so they can have a swing at the pinata with a plastic baseball bat. Everyone wins when the bat strikes the belly of the paper beast and spills its sweet guts all over the lawn. But you have to be quick – our beagle, Banks, is a ravenous fellow with quick reflexes and an even quicker swallow.

What do you do in your part of the world on Good Friday? This is our tradition in Australia – what’s yours?

Here's Banks the Beagle getting some chewing practise

Here’s Banks the Beagle getting some chewing practise

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About the author

Dave is the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel and has been nomadic since May 2013. When he's not busily working on a novel, he can be found exploring a war museum, sailing a yacht (unfortunately not his own), or hiking up a mountain.

5 comments on “Good Friday fun – Bun Day, our Australian tradition”

  1. Keith Allan Reply

    We have just come back from your folks Good Friday do David! Paul and Lisa did not disappoint. Lots of Champagne, and sweets – plus Banks making sure anything spilt was immediately tidied up. What a lovely day, just as you described!

  2. Rochelle Del Borrello Reply

    Sounds like a great way to celebrate Good Friday.

    I’m happy to have just discovered your blog and I’m enjoying your posts.

    It would be great if you could check out my blogs too! They are called Talking in Tongues ( and The Unwilling Expat (

    Even if lately my posts have been mostly dedicated to my son, but I do get around to write about travel, music and books amongst other random things!

    All the best to you!

    • Carmen Allan-Petale Reply

      Hi Rochelle,

      I just had a look at your blogs and I really like them. Keep up the good work! We’ve visited a lot of Italy but haven’t made it to Sicily yet – although it’s on our list.

      Thanks for sharing and have a great Easter,

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