After seeing all the hot cross buns for sale in the Co-op and not being able to resist, it got me thinking why do we eat hot cross buns at Easter? After Googling it, I came across lots of different theories however the one I found most fascinating was that the first recordered reference of a hot cross bun was in 1700.
The tradition of baking bread with a cross on it linked with Paganism. The Saxon Pagans would bake cross buns at the beginning of spring in honour of the goddess Eostre. Which is most likely where the origin of the name Easter came from. It wasn't until Tudor times that it was linked to Christianity.
A century later rather than a religious meaning the cross bun started to get superstitions. We all know the common ones, don't walk under a ladder? if you break a mirror its seven years bad luck, well in 1820's a widow baked cross buns for her sailor son who was supposed to come home on Good Friday however he must have died as he never returned home but the widow refused to give up hope so every year on Good Friday she would bake cross buns and would hang them with previous years batch in the kitchen for good luck.
When the widow died in 1848 a pub was built in the exact location of where she lived and it still stands today in east London named "The Widows Son".