Thursday, October 27, 2016

Stir-Up Sunday



If I was betting woman I would put my money on not many of you out there in cyberspace knowing about Stir-Up Sunday. Which is why I'm telling you about it in time for you to make your preparations. Stir-Up Sunday is a time-honoured day in my fabmily, associated with customs that are now dying out - which is why I think that it's important to hand on the intel.


Stir-up Sunday is actually a day in the Anglican Church calendar. But not many people in England attend Church nowadays, so few are likely to associate the day with a pressing need to make their Christmas puddings. Here's the connection:

The Collect that is the first prayer recited from the 1549 Book of Common Prayer in an Anglican Church on the last Sunday before Christmas Advent goes like this:

"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".

It seems that, historically, people have taken these words literally and to heart, immediately rushing home to concoct their Christmas puddings.My grandmother, as far as I am aware, never attended Church or Chapel during my lifetime - although she ensured that all of her progeny were there every Sunday. Notwithstanding her devotional shortcomings, Grandma made her Christmas puddings on Stir-Up Sunday. As children, my cousins and I all took part in the ritual stirring. It was the start of the increasing frenzy of excitement about the approach of Christmas.

If you want to make a Christmas pudding on the 20th November this year, here is what you must do:

  1. Purchase 13 ingredients to represent the Apostles of Jesus*
  2. Mix them all together
  3. Gather together as many members of the family as you can muster and then allow them to stir the pudding mix. Stirring must be in an East to West direction, to represent the journey that was made from the East by the Three Wise Men to pay homage to the infant Jesus.
  4. As each family member stirs the mix he or she makes a silent wish. (In my case it was always associated with the impending visit by Father Christmas).
  5. The lucky silver charms are then inserted into the mixture. Traditional symbolic charms are thimbles, rings, anchors, and coins. If you are unable to locate all of these items just toss in some coins, which will bring wealth during the coming year to whoever finds one of them on his or her plate.( I amassed quite a large collection of silver thru'penny pieces over the years but, strangely, they never seemed to work their magic for me).
  6. Boil the pudding for several hours then store it somewhere cool to allow it to mature.
  7. On Christmas Day serve it after the turkey.
N.B. Traditionally, a sprig of holly with red berries decorates the pudding when it is brought to the table. This is poisonous! You might prefer to find a fake sprig or two. Whatever you use - remove it before pouring over warmed brandy and igniting from a safe distance. Most people will dig out their lucky charms and leave the pudding untouched. Me? I love Christmas pudding. Can't get enough of it.

* I'm not making the effort to type in a recipe because you will be able to find dozens on the internet. Alternatively - buy a Christmas pudding from the supermarket. But, as I say, it's a nice thing in a rapidly changing world to pass on old customs - including that of stirring the Christmas pudding mix for luck. We all need a portion of that!