The last Sunday before Advent (this year the 26th November) is known as ‘stir-up Sunday’. The nickname is taken from the Book of Common Prayer, where the Collect for that particular day reads: “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.” When you hear these words, it’s a reminder that it’s time to make your Christmas pudding!
It should be made around four to five weeks before the big day, to give the mixture time to mature and mix its flavours properly. On stir-up Sunday, get all the family involved with making the pudding batter – everyone gets to have a stir, and make a wish at the same time. If you want to follow tradition exactly, it should be stirred from east to west (i.e. anti-clockwise) as a tribute to the wise men in the nativity story.
Other traditions include making a pudding with 13 ingredients (to represent Jesus plus the 12 disciples), and adding a sprig of holly for garnish, as a symbol of the crown of thorns. (It’s probably more hygienic to use plastic holly, though!)
Fancy flaming your pudding? Don’t try and pour the brandy over the pudding before lighting, it won’t work and you’ll send up with a soggy pud. For the best results, heat the alcohol gently in a tiny metal saucepan until really hot, then tip the pan so that the liquid just reaches the rim. Ignite it with a match, then pour it over the pudding. If you don’t have a suitable small pan, heat it in an ordinary pan then tip it into a metal ladle before setting light to it.
If you’ve missed making your pudding or it all sounds like a bit too much trouble, don’t worry – we’ll be serving traditional Christmas pudding at the Swettenham Arms throughout December. There’s lots of other festive fare, too – take a look at our events page to find out what’s on.