The Tradition of the Christmas Pudding

The Tradition of the Christmas Pudding

The Christmas (or Xmas) Pudding originated in the 14th Century, but not as we know it today. It was originally called ‘Frumenty’ and was made of beef and mutton, then mixed with fruit and it looked more like a soup than a Christmas pudding. It was eaten as a fasting meal, prior to the Christmas festivities.

At the end of the 15th Century, people started to add eggs, breadcrumbs and dried fruit, along with the addition of beer or a spirit. This would have thickened the mixture to make it more like the pudding we eat today.

Why was it called a plum pudding, when it did not contain plums?

Plum pud is a steamed pudding that contained a variety of dried fruits including currants and prunes (dried plums) and nuts and has evolved from an Elizabethan dish called plum pottage. Originally the pudding included meat, but over the years the meat has disappeared and now it is totally fruit.

Figgy Pudding is also mentioned in the Christmas carol, “We wish you a Merry Christmas”, which is a traditional West Country song composed by Arthur Warrell. This would have been sung by carol singers, usually children, who would have gone singing door to door requesting gifts.

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We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer
We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some, so bring some out here

We wish you a Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Superstitions and traditions surrounding the Christmas pudding.

One is that when you make your pudding, it must include 13 ingredients, which represent Jesus and his disciples.

When stirring the pudding it was

important to use a wooden spoon.

The wooden spoon represented the manger the baby Jesus slept in.

There was only one acceptable direction to stir; from East to West.

This represented the route the three Wise Men took on their quest to find  the newborn king.

Old tradition states that the thirteen ingredients in the pudding should be: raisins, currants, suet, brown sugar, bread crumbs, citron, lemon peel, orange peel, flour, mixed spice, eggs, milk and brandy.

Traditionally puddings were made on ‘stir it up Sunday’ which is the Sunday before advent.

Silver Coins in the Pudding.

This Christmas tradition is believed to have been brought over to Britain by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. As a family the pudding was made on the Sunday before advent and a silver coin was mixed into it. This was believed to bring luck to the person that found it. The first coin was a silver farthing or penny, however, after World War 1 it became a threepenny piece and then a sixpence. Today the closest coin we have is a five pence piece.

Sometimes other items were placed in the Christmas pudding and had special meanings;

Bachelors button: If a single man found it, they would stay single for the following year.

Spinsters/Old Maids thimble:  If a single women found it, they would also stay single for the following year.

A Ring:  If a single person found this it meant that they would be married in the following year. It also meant that you would become rich.

Plum pudding and atoms.

In 1803 John Dalton published his ideas about atoms. He thought that all matter was made of tiny particles called atoms, which he imagined as tiny spheres that could not be divided.  Nearly 100 years later, JJ Thomson carried out experiments and discovered the electron. This led him to suggest the plum pudding model of the atom In the model, the atom is a ball of positive charge with negative electrons embedded in it – like currants in a Christmas pudding.

Whatever you believe or however you eat it – have a wonderful Christmas Time


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