Welcome to the Christmas Party Blog Hop – a grand tour of 26 blog posts, published simultaneously on a shared theme.
I’d like to invite you to share a slice of Christmas Pudding with the characters from my sweet Christmas Regency story, Her Very Major Christmas. Then, after the end of the blog post on Christmas Puddings and the excerpt from the story, you’ll find links to the other 26 posts. Enjoy!
In Her Very Major Christmas, Rosalind is looking forward to her very first traditional English Christmas celebration, complete with all the trimmings, especially the Christmas pudding!
The Christmas pudding was made up of thirteen ingredients – representing Christ and the twelve apostles. Raisins, currants, orange and lemon peels, brown sugar, spices and suet were mixed with bread crumbs, eggs, milk and brandy to create a rich, dense batter.
Making the Christmas pudding usually began on Stir-Up Sunday, the last Sunday in November. On this day, all family members gathered to take a hand in the stirring, using a special wooden spoon (in honor of Christ’s crib and stable). The stirring had to be done clockwise, from east to west to honor the journey of the Magi, with eyes shut, while making a secret wish.
Once every member of the family took their turn stirring the batter, tiny trinkets could be added to the mix. Silver coins (for wealth), a crown (for good luck) or a ring (for marriage) were among the charms that could be stirred into the mixture. Whoever got a serving with a charm in it was said to have that luck for the coming year.
The rich, brandy-laced pudding was then boiled or steamed, and kept in a cool dry place for several weeks. On the day it was to be served, the pudding would be steamed for a few more hours. Then the whole pudding, dark and glistening with fruit and alcohol, would be placed on a platter and set alight. When the flaming dish was ceremoniously carried to the table, the diners would meet it with a round of applause.
Although one might imagine that the day was so named because of the traditional and ceremonial stirring of the pudding, in fact the day got its name from the opening words of the main prayer in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549 for that day: ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people…’
Christmas in the Regency was often spread out over a much longer period than it is today. Although the Germanic custom of having a Christmas tree and opening presents on Christmas Day was not widespread during the English Regency, feasting and dancing was spread out over the entire period from Christmas Eve to Twelfth Night. All sorts of parties from balls to dinners, card-parties and skating-parties were held. Extended holiday visits brought families and friends together, giving rise to courtships and weddings.
An Excerpt from Her Very Major Christmas:
The major swept his other hand around the room. “And this is what you do? Mix up poultices and draughts?”
“Not just poultices and draughts,” Rosalind said. “I make other things—marmalades and jellies, pickles, compotes, candied peel for the fruitcake and Christmas pudding and oh, preserves of all kinds.”
He nodded, encouraging her to go on. She smiled. “This year I’ve been allowed to help with the preparation of Christmas Dinner. A real English feast! When I was growing up my mother told me all about boar’s heads and plum puddings at Christmastime. It all sounded so magnificent, much more exotic than anything Indian food had to offer.”
He smiled at that—a genuine smile that warmed his face and lifted the corners of his eyes. They were gray-blue, deep-set and serious most of the time but just now they seemed alight with amusement. “Hard to imagine that boiled puddings and roasts could be exotic. When I was in Spain the native food seemed ambrosial compared to anything I’d ever tasted before.”
“But that’s just because it was different,” she argued. “Ever since I came to England I’ve longed to experience a true English feast just as my mother described it. The Joslins are not very interested in such things, which is a pity. But this year they agreed to let me make the mince pies and the Christmas pudding with Mrs. Pennymoor’s help. My only disappointment is that none of them wished to stir the pudding and make their wishes on Stir-Up Sunday.”
Mrs. Pennymoor had helped her make the pudding on the last Sunday of Advent, as was traditional. Since the Joslins had not been interested Mrs. Pennymoor had decreed that the servants would be allowed to participate in the stirring-up ceremony. It had been an unexpected pleasure to see the scullery maid’s eyes grow round with awe when she was invited to take her turn stirring the wooden spoon and the stable boys had even been willing to endure a vigorous scrubbing in cold water in order to take part in the occasion.
“Then I shall look forward to this Christmas dinner,” the major said. He looked back down at his hand, flexing it experimentally. “I think your pepper ointment is working.”
He smiled up at her. Rosalind found herself smiling back.
And now, on with the blog hop!
The theme of the blog hop is an invitation to a Christmas celebration, and every stop on this blog hop will be a little bit different. Variety is the spice of a party!
Huge thanks to historical novelist Helen Hollick for arranging this fun event — I hope you will visit and enjoy all of the different offerings of this moveable feast.
Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings!
Thank you for joining our party
now follow on to the next enjoyable entertainment…
1. Helen Hollick : “You are Cordially Invited to a Ball” (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/nsodv78
2. Alison Morton : “Saturnalia surprise – a winter party tale” (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/op8fz57
3. Andrea Zuvich : No Christmas For You! The Holiday Under Cromwell – http://tinyurl.com/pb9fh3m
4. Ann Swinfen : Christmas 1586 – Burbage’s Company of Players Celebrates – http://tinyurl.com/mwaukkx
5. Anna Belfrage : All I want for Christmas – (plus a giveaway prize) http://tinyurl.com/okycz3o
6. Carol Cooper : How To Be A Party Animal – http://wp.me/p3uiuG-Mn
7. Clare Flynn : A German American Christmas – http://tinyurl.com/mmbxh3r
8. Debbie Young : Good Christmas Housekeeping (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/mbnlmy2
9. Derek Birks : The Lord of Misrule – A Medieval Christmas Recipe for Trouble – http://wp.me/p3hedh-3f
10. Edward James : An Accidental Virgin and An Uninvited Guest – http://tinyurl.com/o3vowum and – http://tinyurl.com/lwvrxnx
11. Fenella J. Miller : Christmas on the Home front (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/leqddlq
12. J. L. Oakley : Christmas Time in the Mountains 1907 (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/qf6mlnl
13. Jude Knight : Christmas at Avery Hall in the Year of Our Lord 1804 – http://wp.me/p58yDd-az
14. Julian Stockwin: Join the Party – http://tinyurl.com/n8xk946
15. Juliet Greenwood : Christmas 1914 on the Home Front (plus a giveaway) – http://tinyurl.com/q6e9vnp
16. Lauren Johnson : Farewell Advent, Christmas is come” – Early Tudor Festive Feasts – http://wp.me/p1aZWT-ei
17. Lucienne Boyce : A Victory Celebration – http://tinyurl.com/ovl4sus
18. Nancy Bilyeau : Christmas After the Priory (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/p52q7gl
19. Nicola Moxey : The Feast of the Epiphany, 1182 – http://tinyurl.com/qbkj6b9
20. Peter St John: Dummy’s Birthday – http://tinyurl.com/nsqedvv
21. Regina Jeffers : Celebrating a Regency Christmas (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/pt2yvzs
22. Richard Abbott : The Hunt – Feasting at Ugarit – http://tinyurl.com/leyh4gt
23. Saralee Etter : Christmas Pudding — Part of the Christmas Feast – http://tinyurl.com/lyd4d7b
24. Stephen Oram : Living in your dystopia: you need a festival of enhancement…
(plus a giveaway prize) – http://wp.me/p4lRC7-aG
25. Suzanne Adair :The British Legion Parties Down for Yule 1780 (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/oc5496a
26. Lindsay Downs: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree – (plus a giveaway prize) http://tinyurl.com/kvfz468
Thank you for joining us!