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Traditions & History  

The Christmas Pudding
By Sarah Lane
Nov 17, 2008, 07:46 PST

History and Tradition of Christmas Pudding

Does your Christmas dinner include a Christmas Pudding? If you lived in England, the absence of this delectable dessert from the holiday table would raise a few eyebrows. The pudding is the most special part of the meal, although families alter the way it’s cooked and presented to create their own unique traditions. Originally the Christmas Pudding was referred to as hakin because of its multitude of ingredients.

The first recipes of this pudding came from the Middle Ages. The ingredients for mince pie, as it was then called, were chopped poultry, pheasant, partridge, and rabbit. Later sugar, apples, raisins, and candied oranges and lemons were added. Another form of Christmas pudding called porridge or frumenty surfaced in the 14th century. Ingredients included beef, mutton, raisins, currents, prunes, wine, and mixed spices. It was a soup-like fasting dish eaten before the Christmas celebrations commenced. In 1595, spirits, dried fruit, eggs, and breadcrumbs were added to the recipe and it became plum pudding. In 1664, it was banned by the Puritans as a lewd custom unfit for people who followed the ways of God.

In 1714, King George I re-established pudding as part of the Christmas feast even though the Quakers strongly objected. Meat was eliminated from the recipe in the 17th century in favor of more sweets, and people began sprinkling it with brandy and setting it aflame when serving it to their guests. The Christmas pudding was not a tradition in England until it was introduced to the Victorians by Prince Albert. By this time the pudding looked and tasted as it does today. The traditional cooking time takes about eight hours, with preparation taking even longer due to extensive marinating. The longer the fruit is marinated in brandy, cider, or both, the better it tastes and this could take weeks!

There are many traditions and superstitions surrounding the Christmas Pudding. Some traditions say to make the pudding by the 25th Sunday after Trinity, with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and His Disciples. Every member of the family is to take a turn stirring the pudding with a wooden spoon from east to west, in honor of the three kings. It is said that setting the brandy aflame represents Christ’s passion. A sprig of holly as garnish is a reminder if His ‘Crown of Thorns.’ Holly supposedly brought good luck and had special healing powers. It was often planted near houses in the belief that it protected the inhabitants.

Some families add coins to the pudding for luck. Everyone then stirs the pudding and makes a wish. Those who get the coins in their serving get wealth, health, happiness, and their wish will come true. Some people even add gold rings to the mix to indicate the finder will get married in the coming year. A tradition that died out due to its depressing nature, was the addition of thimbles or buttons to the pudding. This signaled that the finder would remain a spinster or bachelor forever. One last interesting fact about Christmas pudding is that the largest batch ever made weighed in at 7,231 pounds and was made in Aughton, Lancashire on July 11, 1992. Imagine trying to finish that plate!

Matthew Walker Christmas Pudding Information Service,, Creative Marketeam Canada Ltd., Welford and Wickham Primary School, West Berkshire, England,

Additional Learning Links For Christmas Pudding

A Lestrian Christmas Pudding
Scroll down to read this story of one person’s shocking discovery that Christmas pudding is not an American tradition.
      Creative Marketeam Canada Ltd.

Mrs Mackie's Christmas Pudding Recipe
Mrs. Makie's recipe is for a traditional rich, dark, moist pudding. Ideal served with a brandy or whisky sauce.
      Clan MacKay

Rich Christmas Pudding Recipe
The BBC actually recommends that you make your Christmas Pudding a couple of months before the holiday!
      BBC Food

Paul's Christmas Pudding Recipe
Paul has put together a great site on Christmas pudding! He has "included Christmas Pudding sauces, Christmas Pudding jokes, Christmas Pudding alternate ingredients, Christmas Pudding photos, Christmas Pudding stories, what to do with left-over Christmas Pudding, Christmas Pudding traditions, and, there's even an arcade type game "Puddingoids"!"
      Paul Denyer

Find more information on Christmas and the holidays with help from Google.

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