P is for Pudding – the history interpreter’s historical advent calendar

Last night’s talk about life in the seventeenth century went well. Folk even survived eating my Jumbles. Well, when I say survived, they were still standing ten minutes after eating them. Sales of Coffers, Clysters were very good too.


Christmas pudding, or plum/figgy pudding, is believed to originate from the medieval period when plum pottage was served during festivities. Like Christmas cake, Christmas pudding derives from plum pottage, which contained not plums but meat and vegetables and was thickened with breadcrumbs and suet. Fruit, wine and spices were then added. The broth developed into a thicker pudding during the seventeenth century when pudding cloths were invented; the meat content was later removed and it became more as we know it today. It was requested for the Christmas feast by George I in 1714 but it was more frequently eaten at harvest time. The pudding became specifically associated with Christmas in the 1830s.
It is customarily made on Stir-up Sunday (the Sunday before advent) with 13 different ingredients, symbolising Jesus and his 12 apostles. Some add a silver coin, a thimble or a ring to the pudding. The coin was supposed to bring wealth and the ring marriage, to whoever found them. Now we stir the pudding and make a wish but historically people stirred from east to west to represent the journey of the wise men.

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