Happy Stir Up Sunday!
Traditionally the day when good housewives...or their cooks... stirred up the dish that would become Christmas Pudding on that festive day coming soon!
The tradition dates... as best as can be seen... from the 14th century. There are traditionally supposed to be 13 ingredients... 1 each for Jesus and the 12 disciples.
Stir Up Sunday refers to the traditional day to start it... the first Sunday before Advent, or the coming of Christ's birth begins.
"Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works...".
This led to the custom of preparing Christmas puddings on that day which became known as Stir Up Sunday.
The tradition is that for good look in the coming year to fall on the family, every member had to take their turn stirring, and make a wish...
There also developed in the early Victorian era the mixing in of small silver fortune telling tokens in the wealthier families, or a sixpence or two in the more simple puddings.
The sixpence or threepence for luck or wealth
a wishbone for a granted wish
a boot for travel
a thimble either for thrift or for spinsterhood if recipient was an unmarried lady
an anchor for a safe voyage or safe harbor
a bell for married in the year
horseshoe for luck
and several others that vary by region.
Whatever, you always have to be careful eating, so no teeth are broken.
Sets are handed down in the family. As my husband was a 4th child and a boy to boot, the oldest sister got them, and they are now with their oldest daughter.
My family also passed them to an oldest daughter, but they were lost about 30 years ago. Sigh...
There is a bit of a debate between calling this steamed pudding or plum pudding...some say the same, just varied by ingredients, some staunch if favor of one or the other...
But all agreed it is dense, full of fruit and steamed.
Also debated, is whether it should be topped with brandy sauce, hard sauce or brandy butter... and whether to be flaming or no...
how nice to have choices!
I was brought up brandy butter sauce...
Here are several great websites and recipes
From Downton Abbey Cooks:
From The National Trust:
From BBC Food:
Greeting card featuring a Christmas pudding with a face... from 1880. British Library