Stir Up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent in the Christian calendar, which this year falls on November 20th. It’s also traditionally the day that Brits make their Christmas pudding, an integral part of our Christmas celebrations.
Stir Up Sunday History
‘’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’’.
This prayer is traditionally said in many Christian churches on the last Sunday before Advent. It’s meant to prepare the congregation for Advent and to ‘stir them up’ to be mindful of the season and all it means as well as to do good works for others and share the message of Christmas.
Stir Up Sunday Traditions
Stir Up Sunday is also the day that British families make their Christmas Puddings.
You’ve probably read about Christmas pudding. Charles Dickens writes about it as Plum Pudding in A Christmas Carol. Christmas Pudding isn’t like a North American pudding, it’s more like a heavy cake. It’s full of raisins and dried currants and flavoured with brandy or stout (a very dark beer).
Nowadays lighter recipes are becoming more popular and and there are even variations with chocolate and other non-traditional ingredients in them. Traditionalists may frown, but they really are yummy!
Making a Christmas pudding involves a great deal of stirring – in fact traditionally the whole family would take part, each member taking a turn stirring the pudding mixture. As each person takes a turn, they make a wish. The wish is to be kept secret, a bit like the one you make when you blow out your birthday candles.
In years gone by, charms used to be placed in Christmas puddings before they were steamed. From sixpences to thimbles, everything had a meaning, and each charm was reputed to tell the fortune of the finder. If you found a sixpence in your serving of pudding you were said to be going be rich, a thimble indicated you would always be a spinster or bachelor, and a ring meant you would be married within the year. Nowadays we recognise that putting thimbles, coins and rings in your pudding is not exactly sanitary and furthermore presents a choking hazard – but some people still wrap a single pound coin in waxed or greaseproof paper and tuck it in. The person who finds the pound coin is meant to be lucky all year.
Why Stir Up Sunday?
The ingredients in Christmas pudding need to be mixed by hand as they are quite heavy and the mixture is often very stiff. If only one person is doing the stirring, they get very sore arms. If everyone in the family takes a turn, making a wish as they do so, the job is made much easier. It’s a fun game with a purpose!
Making your Christmas pudding on Stir Up Sunday also ensures it will have lots of time to ‘age’ before it is served on Christmas Day. The pudding is steamed first on Stir Up Sunday – usually for up to 8 hours. It is then cooled, wrapped in cheesecloth or grease proof paper and then foil and stored in a cool place (not the fridge). Christmas puddings taste much better if they are allowed to mellow like this.
How Do You Make Old Fashioned Christmas Pudding?
I have an old family recipe for Christmas pudding, from my husband’s late Grandmother. An authentic Victorian Christmas Pudding, we still make this recipe today and it is served every Christmas in our family. Find our Victorian Christmas Pudding Recipe here.
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