For me and my family, the Christmas pudding is just as important as the turkey, taking pride of place as the finale to the meal. I heartily believe that a pudding this significant deserves to have its own day which is where stir-up Sunday comes in.
Stir up Sunday is an annual tradition that occurs on the last Sunday before Advent, this year falling on Sunday the 21st of November. Although fitting, the day does not actually get its name from the action of stirring the Christmas pudding; instead, it comes from the Anglican church and the collect for the last Sunday before advent which reads ‘stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of they faithful people.’
The tradition of stir up Sunday emerged during the Victorian era, which brings with it many charming rituals and quirks. My personal favourite of these rituals is the act of placing lucky charms into the pudding, which, Good Housekeeping explains, included ‘a silver coin for wealth, a wishbone for luck, a thimble for thrift, a ring for marriage, and an anchor for safe harbour.’ Nowadays, presumably after many a tense Christmas day trip to the dentist, people partaking in this tradition put the token underneath the serving plate rather than within the pudding itself.
Stir up Sunday not only provides good luck, but it also gives families the opportunity to make wishes, arguably the perfect combination. It is said that each family member should take it in turn to stir the pudding in an anti-clockwise motion, making a wish each time. The direction of the stir was surprisingly significant as it was meant to replicate the movement of the Wise Men from East to West to meet Jesus.
Hopefully, now the idea of good luck, wishes, and pudding has enticed you to partake in this wonderful tradition and, if so, I have included below my favourite Christmas pudding recipe from Country Living which I have slightly adapted.
Stir up Sunday Christmas Pudding
By Alison Walker
- 250g raisins
- 250g currants
- 100g dried cherries
- 200g fresh breadcrumbs
- 100g light muscovado sugar
- 50g ground almonds
- 30g candied peel
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 nutmeg, grated
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 3 large eggs
- 150ml port
- Grease a 1.2-litre pudding dish and place a disc of buttered greaseproof paper in the base.
- Put the dry ingredients into a bowl. Whisk together the eggs and port and pour over the dry ingredients. Combine thoroughly and spoon into the dish.
- Lay a circle of buttered greaseproof paper directly on top of the pudding, then cover the bowl with greaseproof paper and foil tied on tightly.
- Stand the pudding in a pan on top of an upturned saucer, ensuring the paper cover doesn’t touch the water. Pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the basin.
- Bring the water to the boil, then turn it down to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and steam the pudding for three hours, topping up with more boiling water when necessary.
- Allow the pudding to cool completely, then cover with fresh papers and store in a cool place.
- On Christmas Day, steam exactly as before for 2 hours.
- Serve with brandy sauce or custard.