When researching the significance of this pastry which always appeared around this time of year when I was a child, the book of Dates and Meanings of Religious & Other Festivals, hot cross buns:
"used to be kept specially for Good Friday with the symbolism of the cross, although it is thought that they originated in pagan times with the bun representing the moon and its four quarters."Helfer Pastries online states:
Hot Cross Buns are made with sweet, yeast-raised dough, raisins, currants, cinnamon and other spices. They are finished with roll icing in the shape of a cross, to remind us of the death of Jesus and the victory of His Resurrection!Hot Cross Buns are mainly associated with Good Friday than Easter Sunday.
Bella Online had the following to say about their pagan origins:
Their origins lie in pagan traditions of ancient cultures, with the cross representing the four quarters of the moon. During early missionary efforts, the Christian church adopted the buns and re-interpreted the icing cross. In 1361, a monk named Father Thomas Rockcliffe began a tradition of giving Hot Cross Buns to the poor of St Albans on Good Friday.
In years that followed, many customs, traditions, superstitions, and claims of healing and protection from evil and were associated with the buns. In the 16th century, Roman Catholicism was banned in England, but the popularity of Hot Cross buns continued. Queen Elizabeth I passed a law banning the consumption of Hot Cross Buns except during festivals such as Easter, Christmas and funerals.