Monday, 19 December 2016

Christmas Countdown, Traditions and Trivia Day Nineteen

Hello Friends!

Here is today's Advent calendar picture and scripture.


A week from today and the Christmas festivities will be winding down, it will be Boxing Day and we will be wondering why we ate so much on Christmas Day!

One of the things many of us may over~indulge in, and one of the most famous dishes to grace the British Christmas table, is the Christmas Pudding, sometimes called Plum Pudding {although it does not contain any plums}.

Traditionally Christmas Pudding arrives at the table spectacularly alight with flaming brandy.  It became the rich pudding we know today during Victorian times having evolved from a Medieval dish called Frumenty which was a thick, stodgy, porridge like pudding made from cracked wheat. Modern day Frumenty is a spicy wheat based dish made from cracked wheat, almond milk, eggs, beef stock, and saffron.

Here is a recipe written in the fifteenth century for Frumenty ~~~

Curye on Inglysch, 15th c.
To make frumente. Tak clene whete & braye yt wel in a morter tyl the holes gon of; sethe it til it breste in water. Nym it up & lat it cole. Tak good broth & sweet mylk of kyn or of almand & tempere it therwith. Nym yelkys of eyren rawe & saffroun & cast therto; salt it; lat it naught boyle after the eyren ben cast therinne. Messe if forth with venesoun or with fat motoun fresch.

It isn't easy to understand, but I can make out words that suggest cracking wheat using a mortar, soaking the wheat, cooling the mixture, then I can see broth, sweet milk of almonds, raw egg yolks, and saffron and salt. Following that I can make out venison and fresh mutton. Lots of familiar words with an unfamiliar feel, and lots of words that mean nothing at all!  I think a good knowledge of cooking and an understanding of what words meant six hundred years or so ago would help immensely! Did you notice there are no indications of measurements or times?

By the late 16th century, records indicate that the recipe now included a list of ingredients such as raisins, currants, prunes, breadcrumbs, spices and alcohol, as the recipe was evolving closer to the pudding we know today. However, in 1664, it was banned by the Puritans as a "bad custom" and was not seen again until revived by King George I in 1714.

There are many superstitions and traditions surrounding the Christmas Pudding, including:

  • that it must be made with exactly thirteen ingredients to represent Jesus and his disciples;
  • that the pudding be stirred from east to west to honour the Three Wise Men;
  • that every member of the family take a turn to stir the pudding {but this probably arose more from the desire to get help with the energy needed to thoroughly stir such a stodgy mixture by hand};
  • that everyone stirring the pudding got to make a wish;
  • it is topped with a sprig of holly to serve, often said to represent the Crown of Thorns;
  • tokens were placed in the pudding and whoever got that token in their portion would receive the attribute in the coming year.  Some examples include: a wishbone {good luck}; a thimble {thrift}; an anchor {safe harbour}; a ring {will be married soon}; a silver sixpence {see below}.

Puddings are traditionally made on the Sunday before Advent which is known as “Stir Up Sunday”.  It is widely believed that it is called "Stir Up Sunday" because the Collect, from the Book of Common Prayer used in the Church of England in the 16th century, for that day includes the wording:
"Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
The puddings are then left to mature until Christmas Day.  However, I remember my Grandmother making the puddings one year and allowing them to mature until the following year! This long maturing process is not uncommon, and the longer the maturation the better the pudding.

One tradition I remember from my childhood is finding a silver coin in the pudding. Traditionally, a silver sixpence is stirred into the pudding and is said to bring wealth for the coming year to the person who finds it ~ assuming they don’t choke on such a small object hidden in the dense pudding!  I always potched my pudding to see if I had the coin {and I now know this was often rigged so I would find it} before eating a mouthful!

Here are some silver sixpences that have spent time in Christmas Puddings. If you got the coin, you didn't spend it for if you did you would be giving your wealth away.  I can’t imagine doing any of this today because of health and safety, but it is what I grew up with and I don’t know of anyone who suffered because of the coin in the pudding.

Top row King George V 1921 and 1927; Bottom row King George VI 1943, 1945 {2} and 1948

Christmas Pudding is best eaten hot served with a brandy flavoured white sauce, or custard sauce, Brandy Butter, or any one of a variety of creams {plain or flavoured} that are now available to buy, or make yourself.

I recently read that an estimated five million puddings {equivalent of} are thrown out every Christmas. This is disgraceful and there is no excuse for throwing out your leftover pudding. You can reheat it successfully for Boxing Day, it keeps well and can be eaten cold like a rich fruit cake, you can freeze it, or you can make something else, such as a Christmas Pudding Trifle, or something fun to give to guests or as sweet treat gifts to your neighbours are Nigella Lawson's Christmas Puddini Bonbons.  No reason to waste pudding at all!

I shall depart this subject with one of the most famous literary quotes about the Christmas Pudding from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" ~~~

"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."

Tonight's Yuletide Lad is Skyr Gobbler and he will be leaving on the 1st of January after he has sneaked into the pantry to gobble up any bowls of Skyr that have been left lying around.  Some of his other names are Skyrg├ímur,  Skyr Glutton, and Curd Glutton.

Skyr is quite delicious and I can understand why a hungry Yuletide Lad would seek out as much as he can eat!

Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xoxo


  1. Well my goodness Deb, what a richly filled post! The history of the Plum Pudding and its descendants is wonderful. I love that you have shown us your beautiful sixpence that have spent time in a pudding, even if it was rigged for you! I had no idea that a pudding could be made and last for a year! I've never had a Christmas pudding. Is this the same as a figgy pudding? I know that is a line in an English Christmas carol. It must be similar. Have a wonderful evening, dear Deb. xoxo ♥

    1. I knew quite a bit of the pudding tradition, but as with most of this series of posts I've learned much. Yes, figgy pudding is another name for it.
      ~~~Deb xoxo

  2. Wow, that recipe from the 15th century was so hard to decipher. You did a great job, I could only figure out a few words. The history is very interesting. So much to learn, and so fun.

    I, too enjoyed seeing a sixpence. Coins from another country are so fun to see. They are all so different, but do the same thing. And a child loves to receive one no matter the country.

    I will be sad when this series is over. It has been a joy to learn all the different customs. Thanks!

    Love and hugs,

    1. I'm glad you have enjoyed it. I admit, it has not been easy committing to it, I had no idea how much time some of these entries would take and sometimes I'd keep reading and reading, just following links!
      Much love, Deb xoxo

  3. Thankyou for all your recent posts they have been very interesting, we have a Christmas pudding but will have it on Boxing Day, I hope to pick up a few cheap after Christmas as well, I just love them.

    1. Glad you have enjoyed the Christmas Countdown!
      Deb xo


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