More about Hot Cross Buns (collected from the Internet)
There are differing stories concerning hot cross buns. Some folks say they were part of pagan spring festivals and later given the cross by monks wanting to give Christian meaning to the the tradition. Holiday traditions often have pagan, as well as Christian roots and many times the symbolism has been changed over time to adapt to those using it in their celebrations.
Other accounts speak of an English widow whose son went off to sea and she vowed to bake him a bun every Good Friday. When he didn't return she continued to bake a hot cross bun for him each year, trusting that he would some day return.
In the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable "hot-cross buns" is
defined this way: "In regard to 'hot-cross buns' on Good Friday, it may
be stated that the Greeks offered to Apollo, Diana, Hecate, and the Moon, cakes
with 'horns.' Such a cake was called a bous, and (it is said) never grew mouldy.
The 'cross' symbolized the four quarters of the moon."
This version (from "Poor Robin: Almanack", 1733) is supplied as well:
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 common bread.
The page Journal of Seasons says that the cross on the bread pre-dates Christian symbols and "reflects the four seasons and four elements [fire, earth, air, water] of ongoing life at this holiday [Ostara] of renewal. Families kept the buns, which were give a life-sustaining magic, hung and dried to crumble in milk if someone became ill.