One of our members at Emmanuel in London, Lucie Brear, has compiled a fantastic collection of recipes and suggested Scripture readings for advent. If you want to discover a traditional English way to prepare for Christmas, then just read on! I’ll post them here one week at a time. Here’s the first:
Stir Up Sunday
The first Sunday before advent, which this year fell on November 26th, is traditionally known as Stir Up Sunday, when families gather together to mix and steam the Christmas pudding.
The term comes from the opening words of the collect for the day in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer:
“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; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Christmas pudding would traditionally contain 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his disciples. Practically, stirring the mixture is hard work, so as many family members as possible join in the task. The pudding mixture is stirred from East to West in honour of the Magi (three wise men) who visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The customary garnish of holly represents the crown of thorns.
Most recipes for Christmas pudding require it to be cooked well in advance of Christmas and then reheated on Christmas day – but even though Stir Up Sunday has passed, there’s still plenty of time to prepare your pudding. You may even want to follow this traditional Victorian recipe, made with shredded beef suet.