There is a lot of symbolism connected to this famous pudding.
It has been an important part of the Christmas celebrations for centuries.
Stir Up Sunday
It all starts on the Sunday that is closest to Saint Andrew’s Day (November 30th). This is the day to make the Christmas pudding.
In the Common Book of Prayers we can read the following:
“Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”
This special Sunday became widely recognized as “Stir Up Sunday”.
Old tradition states there should be thirteen ingredients in the pudding: raisins, currents, suet, brown sugar, bread crumbs, citron, lemon peel, orange peel, flour, mixed spices, eggs, milk, and brandy.
A mixed spice is a blend that consists of: cinnamon, coriander seed, caraway, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice and mace.
Make note that there are hundreds of variations of the recipe. Families may have their own secret recipe passed down for generations. There are some absolutely suburb recipes on the internet. One of our favorite recipes is on Nigella.
The old custom of using thirteen ingredients was a symbol of Jesus and the twelve disciples.
When stirring the pudding it was important to use a wooden spoon.
The wooden spoon represented the manger the baby Jesus slept in.
There was only one acceptable direction to stir; from East to West.
This represented the route the three Wise Men took on their quest to find the newborn king.
Make a Wish
It was required that every person in the household, including servants, took turns stirring the pudding.
Each person was to stir three times. As each person stirred in the pudding they would concentrate on making a wish; one wish for each round. Out of the three wishes, it was told that one would be granted.
Other traditions told that it was expected that the person stirring the pudding made twelve rounds. They would make a wish for each of the twelve rounds. The twelve rounds represented the twelve months of the year and they made one wish for each month.
Good Luck Objects in the Christmas Pudding
It was not uncommon to mix in small objects while making the pudding. There are many variations to what kind of small objects were found hidden in the pudding.
The most common object was a silver coin. The lucky person to be served the slice of pudding containing the silver coin was ensured good luck and success the following year.
Other charms hidden in the Christmas pudding were also popular.
A small wishbone brought good luck to the finder.
A thimble in the pudding was a sign of thrift.
A ring gave anticipation of a marriage in the year to come.
An anchor charm symbolized a safe year protecting the receiver from danger.
Christmas Pudding – A Short History
This pudding history can be traced back to the 15th century. In its early history this was not a dessert pudding as it is today.
Up until the late 18th century the pudding was called plum porridge. The ingredients were quite different from the Christmas pudding.
Plum porridge was made up of beef and mutton broth, bread crumbs, currants, wine, spices and raisins. This dish was served together with meat. Notice that plums are nonexistent in this porridge. The reason is that raisins were referred to as plums.
The plum porridge lost popularity and steadily it evolved into the Christmas pudding.
Christmas pudding has been an all-time favorite for centuries.
Christmas Pudding Banned
King Charles I was executed in 1649 and the country was a republic for the next eleven years.
Oliver Cromwell who ruled as Lord Protector was a Puritan with very strong views on how people should lead their lives. Christmas pudding was prohibited.
Well, actually celebrating Christmas all together became illegal.
The Puritan rulers argued that the customs of the Christmas celebrations were based in pagan traditions. Also they who ruled were very anti-Catholic. They were determined to distance themselves from all festive celebrations carried on by Catholics.
In 1660 Great Britain was again a monarchy. The son of Charles I was asked to rule the country. He became King Charles II.
The strict Puritan rulers lost ground and once again the people of the country could openly celebrate Christmas and continue to enjoy Christmas pudding.