Friday 22 November 2013

Stir-Up Sunday

The Sunday before the first in Advent is known as Stir-Up Sunday.  This is because it embraces the British tradition of making the Christmas Pudding and was introduced, apparently, by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria.

It was a time when families got together to make the pudding and where children learnt from their parents and grandparents what goes into the Christmas dessert. Most of us now tend to buy our Christmas puddings and will never experience the fun of stirring the pudding and popping in the odd coin which will be found on Christmas day, bringing health, wealth and happiness to the family for the coming year.

The term comes from the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549 and used on the last Sunday before Advent in the Anglican Church:

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

.Excita, quaesumus, Domine, tuorum fidelium voluntates: ut divini operis fructum propensius exsequentes, pietatis tuae remedia maiora percipiant: Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

It was thought that cooks, wives and servants would go to Church, hear the words ‘stir up’ and know that it was the day for making and stirring the Christmas puddings in plenty of time for Christmas Day. (The prayer was actually stirring up the people to do good deeds.)

A traditional Christmas pudding has thirteen ingredients to represent Jesus and his disciples. When family members take a turn in stirring, they should stir from east to west to remind them of the wise men who visited the child Jesus and brought him gifts. It is also customary to make a wish when it’s your turn to stir.

Here’s a traditional recipe for a Christmas pudding for either 4-1pint puddings or 2- 2pint puddings


 1          8oz golden caster sugar
 2          8oz suet or margarine
 3          2lbs  4oz mixed fruit
 4          8oz plain flour
 5          2oz flaked almonds
 6          Zest of 1 lemon
 7          5 beaten eggs
 8          A small cooking apple, peeled and chopped
 9         1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
10        1level teaspoon mixed spice
11        1 level teaspoon nutmeg
12        Pinch of salt
13        5fl oz brandy or rum

Mix together all the dry ingredients.

Stir in the eggs and brandy and mix together, with everyone taking a turn to stir the pudding.

Put the mixture into 4x1pint pudding basins or or 2x2 pint basins which have been greased well.

Cut a circle of baking parchment for the top of each and wrap foil over the basins.

Tie securely with string.

Make a string handle from one side of the basin to the other so it's easier to pick the basin out of the pan after cooking.

Put the basins in to a large steamer or, if you don’t have a steamer, use a large pan and put inverted saucers into it to stand the basins on.

Pour in boiling water, about a third of the way up the basins, then put the lid on and steam away. This will take about 5-6 hours and you will need to keep checking the water and replacing it so that the pans doesn’t boil dry.

When cooked, store somewhere cool until you need them.

You will need to steam them again for another 2 hours before serving , or, you could cheat and pop them in the microwave for a few minutes.

To find our more Christmas and Advent facts, plus lots of recipes, why not treat yourself to The Advent Recipe Book - available from Amazon.  Click here to see inside

© Karen Ette 2013

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