Stir Up Sunday and the Christmas Pudding: What you need to know


It’s true that 2020 has been a whirlwind of a year and we can’t quite believe that it’s almost time to mention the ‘C’ word! With Christmas just around the corner, it also means that the countdown to Stir Up Sunday is on. So, on Sunday 22 November 2020, get your aprons on and sleeves rolled up - it’s time to make Christmas pudding!


Stir Up Sunday - what does it mean?

‘Stir Up Sunday’ is a tradition that dates back to the Victorian era; it is Prince Albert that made it the Christmas staple after declaring his love for the dessert. Families would gather to stir the Christmas pudding mixture, five weeks before Christmas (or the Sunday before Advent to be precise). The mixture would be stirred from East to West (while making a wish), remembering the Wise Men that visited Jesus.

Christmas lunch isn’t over until you’ve had (at least) one serving of the stodgy yet super indulgent pudding, that is the nation’s favourite dessert. But where did the Christmas pudding tradition start and what does it all mean? Listen, learn and let your tummy rumble - here are a few things you (probably) never knew about Christmas pudding…


Where does the tradition come from?

The very first version of the pudding originated in the 14th century, where the Brits made a version of porridge called ‘frumenty’ - sounds fruity right? Wrong! It had quite the array of tastes, including currants, spices, wines, beef and mutton. It was eaten around the time of Christmas preparations. 

Fast forward a few centuries, and the porridge had gone through other alternative names, including plum pudding (plum referring to all variations of dried fruit) after dried fruit became more available. The savoury dish eventually became a sweet dessert that we now know as the beloved Christmas pud.


Why is mincemeat called mincemeat?

As mentioned above, the pudding (similar to your beloved mince pies) did used to contain minced meat, most commonly mutton, beef, rabbit or game. Hence the name! It was certainly a fundamental ingredient in the Christmas pudding; thank goodness it’s not quite the same thing now…we’ll stick to the dried fruit and spices mix thanks! 


Why do we light Christmas puddings?

A Christmas pudding traditionally comprises 13 ingredients, representing Christ and his 12 disciples. For you Christmas pudding advocates, yes, we know there’s actually 12 ingredients, so this is where the booze comes in to play. The flaming brandy not only represents the number 13 here but is also said to represent the Passion of Christ.


…and the coin? What does that symbolise?

Yes, it seems odd that we add something hard enough to break a tooth to such an expensive, decadent dessert. However, adding a silver coin into the mixture on Stir Up Sunday is believed to bring the coin finder a year of wealth and good fortune. Other items often added include a silver thimble (representing thrift), a garnish of holly (representing Jesus’ crown of thorns) and a small wishbone (to bring good luck). Perhaps keep this in mind when tucking in on Christmas Day!

Now that your Christmas Pudding trivia is up to scratch, it’s time to delve into the sweet stuff - if you’re ready to commit to tradition, here’s our ultimate Christmas Pudding recipe so you can get stuck into this year’s Stir Up Sunday - the recipe can be found below!