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Stir Up Sunday: Etymology, Traditions & Recipes

Stir Up Sunday is only days away – which means that the countdown to Christmas will finally begin! For those unaware, Stir Up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent – making for the ideal time to prepare your Christmas puddings, following the age-old tradition.

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Etymology & Origin of ‘Stir Up Sunday’

The original concept behind Stir Up Sunday had religious connotations – as expected, seeing as Christmas traditionally celebrates the birth of Jesus! But more often than not, the origins of Stir Up Sunday are usually forgotten today. It’s important to note that the phrase ‘Stir Up’ wasn’t just created by chance. Moreover, the origin of this phrase has significant historical meaning – deriving from the ‘1549 Book of Common Prayer’. The opening sentence of the book describes:

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Back in the days before ready-made Christmas puddings, children leaving church on Stir Up Sunday would innocently sing a rhyme in anticipation of the afternoon ahead – taking inspiration from the original prayer read in church:

Stir up, we beseech thee, the pudding in the pot; and when we get home we’ll eat the lot.”

Stir Up Sunday Traditions

Christmas puddings have to be left to sit for a few weeks so that all the ingredients can marinate together. This year, Stir Up Sunday provides five whole weeks for your puddings to mature. Customarily, your pudding is supposed to contain 13 ingredients – to represent Jesus and his disciples. These could include suet, currants, sultanas, raisins, sugar, candied peel, flour, breadcrumbs, almonds, lemon, eggs, brandy, and spices.

Stirring the pudding batter has a huge significance too; supposedly, the pudding should be stirred east to west in tribute to the three wise men trekking west to Bethlehem to shower the baby Jesus with gifts. Making a Christmas pudding is also traditionally seen as a family affair. Each member of the family takes it in turns to stir the mixture and make a wish for the coming year. They then pass the bowl on to the next family member to stir, wish, and pass.

An outdated Stir Up Sunday tradition saw a coin thrown into the mixture prior to steaming. It was thought that the family member who found it would receive great wealth. It’s safe to say that it’s a good thing that tradition isn’t still around – countless safety issues are definitely avoided today! Instead, coins are often placed underneath each plate to bring luck.

Christmas Pudding Recipes

Now that we’ve taken a look at the etymology and historical traditions of Stir Up Sunday, it’s time to get excited about the sweet festive feast ahead of us. Stir Up Sunday 2016 is this coming Sunday: 20th November. If you’re yet to find a recipe, we think we’ve got just the trick. Similarly, if you usually pop over to your local supermarket to buy a Christmas pudding, banish that idea! Nothing beats a heavenly homemade pudding.

How to Make a Traditional Christmas Pudding

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If you’re ready to commit to tradition and whip up a Christmas pudding this year, we have just the recipe. Slightly swaying from tradition, this luxurious take on a steamed Christmas pudding contains three types of dried fruits, two types of zest, a cooking apple, candied peel, almonds, three different spices, sugar, breadcrumbs, flour, suet, eggs, and three types of alcohol. It is certainly going to be a boozy Christmas. Find the recipe here.

How to Make a Chocolate Pudding for Christmas

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It has to be said: not everyone likes Christmas pudding. Fruity cakes can be an acquired taste – especially for children – but Christmas pudding haters shouldn’t have to miss out on all the fun! Instead, we’ve got a rich, decadent and mouth-watering alternative: a Steamed Chocolate Pudding with Hot Chocolate Sauce. Click here to discover how to recreate this treat.



1 thought on “Stir Up Sunday: Etymology, Traditions & Recipes”

  • Thank you for this brilliant explanation of Stir-up Sunday which I hadn’t heard of before today – information good to know on the lead up to Advent and the real Christ-mas!
    Also great Christmas recipes which led me to lots of others to try out during the year. Always something new to discover with Create and Craft! Thank you.

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