Today is Stir Up Sunday. It's an old Victorian custom, peculiar, I think (although I could be very wrong here - please say in the comments if I am) to the British Isles, linking church and home.
The BBC Good Food site says:What is Stir-up Sunday? Stir-up Sunday is a centuries-old annual tradition where home-cooks spend the last Sunday before Advent 'stirring up' their Christmas pudding. That means it's not on the same date each year, and falls somewhere at the end of November before Advent begins.
The link with the church is that the collect for the Sunday before Advent begins:
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people . . .
. . . which reminded housewives that when they got home it was time to 'stir up' their Christmas pudding, not that they needed reminding, I am sure!
There are some customs that surround this tradition.
1. The Christmas pudding should have thirteen ingredients to represent Jesus and his disciples. Mine doesn't, it has fifteen, but then it's hardly a traditional recipe.
2. The pudding should be stirred by each member of the family in turn while making a wish, from east to west to represent the Wise Men to travelled to see the baby Jesus.
This one is easy as it will only be me. :-)
3. The garnish of holly on top represents the crown of thorns. Holly berries are toxic so be careful of this one!
4. People used to add silver charms or coins to the mixture which were said to bring one luck. These could include a wishbone for luck, a thimble for thrift, a ring for marriage, and an anchor for safe harbour. They could also bring an emergency visit to the dentist to mend a cracked tooth!
I don't - do you?
I don't - do you?
. . . and next week, Advent officially starts. Eeek.
“Mrs Cratchit left the room alone – too nervous to bear witnesses – to take the pudding up and bring it in… Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper which smells like a washing-day. That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that. That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered – flushed, but smiling proudly – with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quarter of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.”