Saturday, 24 November 2007

Stir-up Sunday

Stir-up Sunday is traditionally the day in Britain for making the Christmas pudding, the name coming from the opening words of the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer 1549: "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people". It is the last Sunday before Advent, tomorrow.

Apparently the tradition of making a pudding has been dying out, with two thirds of children never having stirred a pudding. So there are moves afoot by celebrity chefs to rekindle the traditions surrounding it.

We have followed this tradition at home wherever we have lived (sometimes finding the ingredients was harder than others, and as a result it wasn't always mixed right on time). I can well remember my grandmother letting us stir the mixture and make a wish, every day for a week, before its first cooking.

The first recipes included meat, prunes and wine, not unlike the original mincemeat recipes. Apparently Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas puddings as being "a lewd custom inappropriate for people who followed God". Nowadays they don't contain meat, but may have shredded beef suet along with with nuts and dried fruit. It used to be, and still sometimes is, known as plum pudding or even plum duff.

Our family recipe has been changed and adapted over the years, as all the best family recipes do. It uses butter instead of suet, no flour at all, plus whiskey and stout. I can't help feeling the latter two are an Irish influence. The latest change has been to say that anyone tasting the mixture at the same time as making a wish will forfeit the wish. That particular adaptation was the result of certain small boys growing up in the family. Tasting became more and more "generous" as the boys grew up!

Our family recipe is here for anyone interested.


  1. Oh boys, that brought back memories! Haven't made a Christmas pudding for years, though I still remember the silver thruppenies (3 old pence, just over 1p) we stirred in. We used to keep some specially.

  2. I think I would like it, even with the peel, since you say it taste like mince meat. My dad would make that in a pie at Christmas.

  3. Thanks for your comments ! I am so angry with Blogger because he published my Monday post ! In my "inside" posts it is written "draft" and I saved it as a draft. Then suddenly I got strange comments which didn't fit at all on Mr. Gattino's "homework", lol ! Now I put it back into draft for Fun and Manic Monday.
    In Germany too there is the tradition of making Christmas "Stollen" and it had to be prepared at least one to two months before Christmas and I remember her stirring and me too. Whe Mr.Gattino has eaten the Christmas pudding for the first time he felt in love with it, that was when our son lived for 9 years in London and we celebrated Christmas there. Now we have our friends who take care of that by bringing or sending it over ! I like it too. But the once we have eaten were all bought not self made. I think people don't have time for that anymore or just think they have no time. It's easier to buy it already made.

  4. Not heard of this before.. my parents never made a pud as they never liked it, this may be why I have never done it either...

  5. I've never eaten christmas pudding, not even seen one in real life. Sounds "interesting".... *giggles*

    All traditions that take any amount of time seem to disappear one after another. The stressful society.

  6. Is this liquid enough to actually boil?

  7. Traditions are there to be kept and cherished. At least they should be!!
    I have never had a Christmas pudding :(
    Your recipe sounds delicious!

  8. Elaine, I can't *not* make a pudding for Christmas! It just doesn't seem right somehow :)
    Hathor, if you enjoyed your dad's mince pie I'm sure you would enjoy this as it's very similar. In fact I've seen a quick pudding recipe which uses a jar of mincemeat as the main ingredient.
    Gattina I didn't realise Stollen was made in advance too. My mother has a friend from Germany who used to give us some every year. Lovely!
    LadyBanana I can well understand not liking Christmas pudding, it's very rich. I think I was fed it from birth....
    Captain L you must try some - it's delicious ;)!!!
    janeway the problem is I wrote the recipe assuming everyone knew, and left out the important step that the pudding mixture is put into a bowl (traditionally formed into a round ball and wrapped in muslin) then put into a pan of boiling water. So it's the water that boils. Or they can be steamed.
    mar yes I do so agree that traditions should be preserved. Globalisation and mobility are all very well, but it would be a great shame if we let everything individual become lost.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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