Conservative though they were, the Victorians believed Christmas should be celebrated (although excessive drinking and frolicking were frowned upon). It was they who established the tradition of making the Christmas pudding on Stir Up Sunday, the fifth Sunday before Christmas.
A THOROUGHLY VICTORIAN INVENTION?
Following the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Royal family celebrated Christmas with gusto and the rest of the nation followed their example. Charles Dickens has certainly helped plant Christmas in our minds as a very Victorian custom.
“In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered – flushed, but smiling proudly – with the pudding, like a speckled cannon ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half a half a quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas Holly stuck into the top. Oh, what a wonderful pudding!” A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
However, the Christmas pudding itself has much earlier origins.
The pudding we know today began life as a pottage. This was a kind of broth, including raisins and other dried fruit, spices and wine. It was thickened with breadcrumbs or ground almonds. Not dissimilar to the mince pies of yesteryear, it often included meat or at least meat stock.
The original ‘figgy pudding’ was almost unrecognisable from modern Christmas pudding
This plum pottage would be served at the start of the meal rather than at the end of the meal as we do today.
It was not until the end of the 17th century that the pottage took on a more solid appearance. It was served like a porridge or cooked inside a skin, like a sausage. Even then, it was more likely to have been sliced and cooked under a roasting joint and served alongside the main meal or as a starter – not a dessert.
During the 18th century, plum porridge would become associated with Christmas. It would be the Victorians who raised its prominence at the festive table.
Trinkets were stirred into the Christmas pudding mixture on Stir Up Sunday.
Stir Up Sunday was a family affair. Each family member was supposed to stir the mixture from east to west to honour the journey of the Magi. This ritual was also thought to bring the family luck in the coming year.
Originally the puddings would have been shaped into a sphere and boiled in a cloth. This practice eventually gave way to steaming the dessert in a pudding basin or elaborate mould, particularly in wealthier households. The traditional accompaniment to the Christmas pudding was a sweet custard or a hard sauce (nowadays known as brandy butter).
It was customary to hide a number of small trinkets in the mixture, a bit like the twelfth night cake.
Well here we are Christmas just round the corner no choir practices unable to meet no singing in Church what a
crazy time we've had, hope everyone is in good health and exercising their voices ready for 2021 when ever we
meet up again, we are both ok (fingers crossed) just hoping the vaccine is the start to going forward into a new
normal, things will change for the better, and we must be ready to sing again.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2021 take care everyone and stay safe.
I trust everyone is well and looking forward to Christmas and, as Helen mentioned in her email, growing excited at the prospect of singing together some time in the New Year. I'm grateful to Ron for posting a lot of our repertoire on his Facebook page which has provided some fun and enjoyment although I'm not sure I remembered the top bass line or the words to everything - hey-ho!
Meantime I've been trying to keep busy working to add detail to the model railway some of the time but Max, the pup, is quite demanding of time both for walks and playing. Bike rides have been rather limited as the weather hasn't been great over here with quite a lot of rain and wind.
It was during one of my walks that I snapped this picture on the phone - so poor quality excuse again :) - and thought to send it on with a tale for the little ones.
It should be reassuring for the kids/grandkids to know that, in this difficult year, Santa has contingency plans in place in case of Brexit/Covid issues. These could mean extended delivery times and operating Rudolph and crew outside of allowed working hours. The deer pictured, of course, aren't reindeer but are parked in a farm just down the road from us in a protective bubble so they can jump straight into service should they be called on.
I understand similar sleigh backup power is available at strategic points around the world :). So no worries, Santa will get through.
For now, enough drivel.
Have an enjoyable Christmas and may 2021 bring better times.
All the best.