Stir it up Sunday – festive activities for 2021

What is Stir it up Sunday?

In the lead up to Christmas, usually on the last Sunday before Advent, we have the annual ‘Stir it up Sunday’, where families traditionally spend the day preparing their Christmas puddings!
This year, it will take place on 21st November 2021 (this Sunday)! So, why not put on your favourite Christmas music, simmer some mulled wine and get ready for those festive feels, because we’re ‘stirring up’ the most Christmassy of ingredients this weekend…

stir it up sunday

Not a fan of Christmas pudding? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. But you don’t need to miss out on the festivities! You can always use the day to make your favourite Christmas dessert or sweet treat. Ginger bread comes to mind…

Why do we call it “Stir it up Sunday”?

You might think the name refers to ‘stirring up’ all the yummy pudding ingredients in a bowl. But historically, the ‘Stir it up’ name comes from the Book of Common Prayer with the words “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”. This centuries-old tradition dates back to Victorian times, with families everywhere getting ready for the Christmas festivities by preparing that all-important finale of the Christmas dinner – the Christmas pudding (or ‘plum pudding’ if you prefer!).

Traditionally, on Stir it up Sunday, each member of the family takes a turn in stirring the mixture whilst making a wish. The pudding should be stirred from east to west, in honour of the Wise Men who came from the east to visit baby Jesus. A toast is also sometimes given (did someone say mulled wine?) in celebration! Perhaps some hot chocolate for the little ones…

Where does Christmas Pudding come from?

Recipes for plum puddings or ‘plum pottage’ date back to the 16th Century, where it was a festive staple. This was a thick porridge like substance made with meat, studded with dried fruits and flavoured with spices, which acted as a preserving agent.

There are two schools of thought as to where the modern-day sweet Christmas pudding comes from, with it being introduced to Britain by either Prince Albert (husband to Queen Victoria) or by King George I (a portly man well known for his fondness for puddings). But one thing is agreed: that the Christmas pudding we know & love today originated in Germany.

The pudding is made and steamed on ‘Stir it up Sunday’ (5 weeks before Christmas) and then reheated (and lit!) on Christmas Day itself.

Christmas pudding, plum pudding or figgy pudding?

Sometimes people call a Christmas pudding a ‘plum pudding’. But you’re probably wondering where the plums are! Well despite the names, the traditional ingredients didn’t even contain plums. In fact, the word ‘plum’ refers to dried fruits in general (dates, prunes, sultanas & currants).

People also refer to Christmas puds as figgy puddings. Figgy puddings are famous today for the the classic “We wish you a merry Christmas” carol.

“Oh, bring us some figgy pudding

Oh, bring us some figgy pudding

Oh, bring us some figgy pudding

And bring it right here”

Figgy pudding actually dates back even longer, to the 14th century! But it was a much different dish than today’s Christmas pud… It was more of a wet, sticky, thick porridge consisting of boiled figs, water, wine, ground almonds, raisins and honey. It later evolved into incorporating ground meat and grains and even later after that, evolved into a steamed pudding made with raisins – finally, a familiar-sounding pudding!

What’s in a Christmas pudding?

Traditionally, the puddings will contain 13 different ingredients to represent Jesus and his disciples. Typical ingredients include: raisins, currants, suet, brown sugar, breadcrumbs, citron, lemon peel, orange peel, flour, mixed spices, eggs, milk and brandy.
But there’s really no strict list of ingredients, so stick with whatever fruits you like most!

Christmas pudding charms

Another popular tradition was to add a silver coin to the pudding batter and the person who finds it when eating the pudding is said to receive health, wealth and happiness in the coming year. Our founder, Clare Hanson, remembers her dad sterilising 20p coins and adding them to the pudding before serving. You’ll quickly learn to check your pudding thoroughly or risk a broken tooth!

Christmas day rituals

What happens after Stir it up Sunday?

On Christmas day, the pudding is reheated then adorned with a sprig of holly (be careful though as holly berries are poisonous). This is thought to represent the crown of thorns. A little brandy is spooned over and lit. Watch those eyebrows! The flames are supposed to represent the Passion of Christ, but we’re just here for the extra sparkle it adds to the festivities. And finally, serve your pudding with brandy butter, cream, ice cream or custard!

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