Traditional Christmas Pudding

Traditional Christmas pudding has a long and fascinating history. It is a much loved favorite Christmas sweet for many countries, in particular England and Ireland.

The once traditional time to make your Christmas pudding was on the Sunday five weeks prior to Christmas day. It was known as "Stir-Up Sunday". This Sunday pudding making day was looked forward to by all the members of the family and especially the children. Everyone took it in turns to stir the pudding as they made a wish.

Christmas pudding is also known as 'Plum Pudding' and is traditionally eaten in Britain and Ireland as a dessert on Christmas day. Recipes vary from family to family and often are guarded as they handed down their prized recipes through the generations.

Christmas pudding generally has a dark appearance and is often black, thick in texture and full of nuts, raisins and suet and moistened with brandy while some recipes call for dark beers such as stout! Today it is common practice to make Christmas pudding boiled in a cloth. At the beginning of the 12th century puddings were prepared in basins to produce the traditional round shape on top that we know today. Once prepared, holly was placed around the pudding, it was drenched in more brandy or other alcohol and set alit as it was delivered to the Christmas table after the main meal. The entrance of the pudding was a most exciting event. Everyone would applaud or sing as it was delivered to the table. Later people added caster sugar sprinkled on top to resemble snow which is often associated with a winter Christmas. Astoundingly, is believed that left-over pudding can keep for up to a year!

Once upon a time a silver coin was placed in the mixture while stirring and it was commonly a sixpence. Once cooked and served, whoever found the coin was believed to have good fortune the following year especially in relation to wealth and money! The practice of placing coins in the pudding ceased once the production of 'silver' coins ceased. No-one wanted to risk ruining the pudding with the new alloy coins. Later various types of trinkets were added for fun such as a wishbone for good luck! Due to concerns of health and safety it is not a practice that is commonly taken up today and for most families this practice of placing coins has now ceased.

Copyright 2006 Bernadette Dimitrov

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