Although lockdown is an unwelcome visitor to our lives, it does mean that we have more free time to spend at home. So to compensate for the dreary weather, the doom & gloom & the never-ending negative headlines, why not make a start to your Christmas preparations, spend a day in the kitchen, and start a new family tradition this year -"Stir-up Sunday".
Stir-up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent and hails back to Victorian times, taking its name from a prayer that begins "Stir up we beseech thee, oh Lord" used as a reminder to churchgoers to stir up the Christmas pudding so the flavours had time to mature before Christmas Day. After church, the Christmas pudding would be made and the family would gather to stir the mixture and make a wish,
stirring from East to West(clockwise) which is a reference to the journey made by the Wise Men.
Historically, thirteen ingredients were used to represent Christ and his disciples. The most common ingredients are: dried mixed fruit, grated apple or carrot, the zest and juice of orange and/or lemon, candied peel, butter, eggs, flour, sugar, spices, stout, brandy, suet, breadcrumbs, nuts - just find a recipe you like the sound of.
When I was a child we bought our pudding from Booths or the Co-op where we used to do the grocery shopping; that was until my first year at Grammar School when in a Domestic Science class, I learned to make Christmas pudding!
Traditionally, silver coins and charms were hidden in the mix, a coin to bring fortune, a thimble, luck, and a ring, marriage. Mum remembered this tradition from her childhood so wrapped clean sixpences in foil, hiding them carefully in our family pudding so we each received one to bring us luck the following year.
Sadly, the recipe from my schooldays was mislaid so in recent years I have tried many recipes from the BBC, Good Housekeeping, Delia, and Nigella - all were delicious, so why not give it a try and make your own this Christmas.
As well as making Christmas pudding, Mum made a Christmas cake. A couple of days before Christmas, the cake was unwrapped and topped with marzipan and icing, decorated with quaint little plastic decorations that came out year after year, finished off with a bright ribbon wrapped around the cake and secured with hatpins. Sadly, Mum is no longer with us but I'll recall happy memories as I make my Christmas cake, continuing the family tradition using the same decorations that hail back to my childhood.
If you are making a cake or pudding, you could buy extra ingredients and make mincemeat, mince pies, and Christmas biscuits too - they taste so much nicer when homemade and it's a lovely way to spend an afternoon; and why not make a playlist so you can listen to your favourite Christmas tunes as you prep.
Whether you make or buy your Christmas goodies, enjoy!
You'll most likely have the equipment already but if not, here are the basics you'll need: