National Plum Pudding Day
National Plum Pudding Day celebrates plum pudding; the pudding is also known as Christmas pudding because it is usually served during the holiday season, or during Christmas dinner. It is popular in the United Kingdom, and other locations where it was brought by the British, such as Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. It was in America by the pre-revolutionary days, first appearing in a recipe book there in 1742.
Plum pudding actually has no plums in it; it is named as such because it contains raisins, and raisins were called plums in pre-Victorian England. Besides raisins, plum pudding contains other dried fruits such as apples and dates, and is held together with eggs and suet. Other common ingredients include nutmeg, nuts, cinnamon, molasses, treacle, cloves, and ginger. It is often moistened with citrus juices or with alcohols such as brandy and dark beers. It is usually steamed for many hours and then reheated again before serving. Its dark color can be attributed to its ingredients and long cooking time. Today is is available premade in stores and can be microwaved, cutting down on cooking time. Hard sauce or ice cream are commonly served with it. The pudding is usually aged for at least a month, and sometimes even a year; the brandy or other alcohol in it helps keep it from spoiling.
Plum pudding was first created in the seventeenth century, and one of the first recipes for it appeared in A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery in 1714. It became sweeter over time, and by the 1830s it became more associated with Christmas, and was made with flour, fruits, suet, sugar, spices, and was topped with holly.
The collect for the last Sunday before Advent in the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer begins with the phrase, "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works..." This led to the the Sunday being known as Stir-up Sunday, a time when Christmas pudding is made. It became tradition that together everyone in a household would hold a wooden spoon and help stir the batter. Wishes are then made, at least by the children. Small silver coins or other tokens are often included in the mixture, and when it is time to eat, the plum pudding is covered with warm brandy, set alight, and brought to the table to a round of applause.
Plum puddings keep very well, and many made during the Christmas season are eaten later in the year, sometimes at Easter, and sometimes even at the next Christmas. It is fitting that National Plum Pudding Day takes place a little time after the holiday season, because if one was made a few months ago, it is still fresh to eat!
How to Observe
Celebrate the day by making and eating plum pudding!