History of the Christmas Pudding
Like the Christmas cake, the Christmas pudding has is origins in plum porridge or pottage, which was first referenced to in the 16th Century. Some scholars even date the pudding back to the 14th Century, but these would have been meat dishes and not fruit based. The ingredients were possibly made up of mutton or beef to which wine, prunes, spices, currants and raisins would have been added. By the 16th Century the ingredients became more familiar, dried fruits, spices, breadcrumbs and eggs.
In was banned by the Puritans at Christmas but made a reappearance under George I in 1714, when he re-established it as part of his Christmas festivities. It was a sweeter dish and during the 18th Century the custom of pouring brandy over the pudding and setting it a light started. It was during the Victorian period that the formation of the modern pudding developed and some scholars credit this to Prince Albert.
There are, as with the Christmas cake several traditions based around the Christmas Pudding. Originally believed to be a custom of the Christmas cake but now more associated with the Christmas Pudding, is the 'Stir Up Sunday'. This is the day the pudding is made. Traditionally this is the last Sunday before Advent. The tradition is for each member of the family to stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon, from East to West and make a wish. When the pudding is made (edible ingredients) a silver thimble for thrift, a tiny wishbone for good luck, a silver coin for wealth, a ring for marriage and even a small anchor for a safe harbour are added.
A Christmas pudding should traditionally have 13 ingredients to symbolise Jesus and the 12 Disciples. A sprig of holy is placed on the top of the pudding to represent the thorns of Jesus and the setting alight of the brandy, symbolises the passion of Jesus.
Finally it is the tradition for the oldest male member of the family to carry the pudding to the Christmas table. The Christmas pudding is the pudding of Christmas Day and is served after the main Christmas meal of the day.
Be sure to read our article on the Historical Items for the Christmas Table.