Stir-up Sunday and the Silver Sixpence

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Stir Up Sunday and Silver Sixpence

Christmas pudding made on stir-up Sunday and the Silver Sixpence

Do you have visions of plum pudding dancing in your head? Well, if you wanted a home made one this weekend was the time to do it.  The last weekend in November includes Stir-up Sunday the traditional day in the English calendar to make Plum, or as it’s known in our house, Christmas Pudding. It’s also the day when silver sixpence pieces come out of the drawer and start to work.

Pudding vs pudding

For those of you who might be looking at the photo and thinking “that’s not pudding”, let me explain. Pudding in England is sometimes used as a general term for dessert, as in – would you like some pudding tonight? – and as a word for a specific type of dessert. Pudding is not the jello or chocolate pudding you might be familiar with in the US.  It’s more akin to bread pudding, a denser consistency.

Pudding Lore

Where were we…yes, last Sunday was stir-up Sunday, traditionally the last day to make a Christmas pudding. After all the ingredients are mixed together, everyone in the household takes a turn stirring the ingredients.  In our house at least you get to make a wish while doing this. But you can only stir clockwise! Stirring anti-clockwise  – also known as widdershins – is bad luck.  It’s also anti-left-handed as that’s our natural tendency, but I’ll refrain from delving further into that murky pit 🙂

Once all the stirring is done, the cook then adds the (well-scrubbed and boiled to sterilize it) sixpence to the mix, puts the batter in the bowl and gets ready to cook. After hours and hours of cooking the puds (as the are affectionally called in our house) cool and are then given a nice long drink of brandy.  Then they get stored in the fridge and given a brandy once a week until Christmas. Delicious.

Lucky Sixpence

On the big day, whoever gets the slice of pudding containing the sixpence is meant to have good luck all year. As I was writing this, it also made me think of the “sixpence in your shoe” rhyme on one’s wedding day.  That sixpence is also for luck.

So why is a sixpence lucky? Sadly, I couldn’t find an answer to this.  It used to be that a threepence piece was lucky.  Then threepence went out of circulation and sixpence took it’s place.  I guess inflation raised the price of luck too.

A call to action for all sixpence pieces

Did you know that the Monogram Challenge has been going for 51 (!) weeks?  That means there are a lot of sixpence pieces floating around out there. If you want to have a go at making a real Christmas pud, there a a million recipes out there.  It’s one of those dishes that everyone has there own slight variation. I’m not a fan of raisins or suet, so I have adapted my family recipe to suit my tastes 🙂

The website Historical Food has lots of versions, including one made with Stout and another labelled as the Royal Family recipe.  If indeed it is a recipe used by the Royal Family perhaps the Royal Family Cook’s recipe is a better name as I don’t imagine Queen Victoria was in the kitchens personally. They even have a non-alcoholic version.

And of course, no matter what dessert you’re serving this year, remember you’re going to need a beautiful server to get it from platter to plate.  You can’t pour all that effort into a delicious creation and then serve it with something not worthy 😉 For your consideration:



What’s the traditional dessert in your family?

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