We have all sung the classic song "Oh bring us some figgy pudding, Oh bring us some figgy pudding, and bring it right here!" around the Christmas tree. Christmas pudding is the perfect finish to any festive dinner. Let's have a look at some of the compelling histories and traditions of this iconic dessert.
Christmas pudding originated in England. A traditional pudding is dark in colour and usually soaked with brandy or other alcohols. The origin of the Christmas or plum pudding goes back centuries and is steeped in tradition.
The very first version of the pudding originated in the 14th century. The British made porridge called "frumenty" made of beef and mutton with raisins, wines, currants, and spices – quite a collection of tastes! At that time pudding tended to be more like soup and was eaten in the time of Christmas preparation.
By the end of the 14th century, frumenty had gone through several names including plum pudding, Christmas pudding, or just Pud! After the 16th century, dried fruit became more available, and the pudding slowly shifted from savoury to sweet.
Plum pudding became the customary Christmas dessert around 1650, but in 1664 the Puritans in England attempted to ban it. It's said that the Puritans thought Christmas pudding to be 'sinfully rich' and 'unfit for God-fearing people'.
In 1714, King George I re-established it as part of the Christmas meal, having tasted and enjoyed Plum Pudding. Christmas pudding once again became the customary dessert of a Christmas meal by the middle of the 17th century.
The interesting thing is, plum pudding does not contain any plum! This goes back to the Victorian practice of substituting dried plums with other dried fruits, such as raisins. Dried plums or prunes were so popular that any goods which contained dried fruits were referred to 'plum cakes' or 'plum puddings'.
Traditionally Christmas pudding is made five weeks before Christmas, on or after the last Sunday before the first Advent (the last Sunday in the Church Year). Each family member in a household would stir the pudding and make a wish.
Everyone in the house would take turns, stirring the pudding by three times to make a wish. It was believed that if an unmarried person forgets to join in, they will not find a partner in the upcoming year!
Many different traditions and customs have come up with plum pudding, some of which we still observe today. Have a glance at some of the most exciting and well-known Christmas pudding traditions.
Adding silver coins into plum pudding is a fun Christmas tradition. The notion being that whoever finds the coin will have good luck. The tradition may date as far back as early as the 1300s when several small items like dried peas and chicken wishbones were added to the pudding mixture.
Sometimes a crown or a small silver ring was baked into a Twelfth Night Cake. The person who finds the token was said to be king or queen for that night and is believed to have good fortune and wealth in the upcoming year.
For a time, a single silver coin was added to puddings, and only one of the guests at the Christmas feast would be granted good luck. Over time, however, the practice evolved and Aussies were expected to add several coins to spread the luck around.
Australians used to keep sixpence and tuppence in their Christmas pudding but were worried when their currency changed to decimal. The old money was formed from a metal that was safe to cook, but the new copper coins would turn green and make the pudding taste metallic, so if you want coins in the pudding, insert pre-decimal currency. And do not forget to boil the coin first. These days you can buy pudding packs of sixpence, and tuppence from coin dealers as well.
It's said that Christmas pudding needs to be prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his twelve disciples. Every family member stirs it in turn from east to west to honour their journey.
Historically, Christmas pudding wasn't even considered to be a dessert. Over the years, people have used sweet ingredients like dried fruits, soaking them in different alcohols and throwing nuts, breadcrumbs and treacle into the mix. A key ingredient in this pudding is suet, or beef fat, which comes from the loins and kidneys.
Puddings were often steamed in a square of fabric or a bag. They were also sometimes wrapped in the fabric after cooking and hung on a hook to dry out slightly.
You may sometimes wonder why we always put the pudding in a cloth? Why not just a suitable pudding basin? It makes the pudding packaging far more appealing, with its rustic charm; some of which need safeguarding.
Pudding remains an integral part of Australian Christmas. With traditional Christmas pudding find a place in the heart of the Australian’s Christmas celebrations.
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