Fruit that has been soaking for two days until it is plump and lush; oranges and lemons zested and juiced; cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon and all spice heated gently in the pan to release their full flavour.
Stir up Sunday, so called because of The Book of Common Prayer collect that was recited in Victorian Anglican churches on the Sunday before Advent began, ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people’, is synonymous with the making of the Christmas Pudding, leaving it just enough time to be fed and matured in the month before Christmas itself, so that it is presented on the festive table at its richest best. Yet the ritual stirs up so much more in memories, symbolism and tradition.
I use the same pancheon my mother used for mixing fruit cakes and setting bread to rise, and the same weights stored in a Craven’s tin with a picture of York Minster in springtime on its lid; there is that sense of connection and continuity. Just as my mother stirred, I stirred and now my sons stir, the first heady fragrances of the season filling the home.
Some traditions change from necessity. I used to buy my sixpences from an old fashioned shop in Haworth, trawling through the wooden box on the counter for meaningful dates. Now, the shop is closed, given way to plastic souvenirs and over-priced tea towels, so I support a local Etsy business, but the silver pieces are still there, shining in the mixture. Each of my children has a velvet pouch in which the treasures of their past Christmas feastings are placed.
Thirteen ingredients – one for each disciple, added to the mixture and stirred from East to West to mirror the journey of the Magi, by each member of the family present as they make their wishes.
Superstition and religion intertwined in this gentle ceremony as the advent of Christmas begins.
All recipes shown are Gluten free and Lacto-Vegetarian, but many are also suitable for Vegan diets.