Wednesday, 26 October 2016
When I was little, we always made our Christmas puddings in October, much earlier than traditional Stir Up Sunday (the last Sunday before Advent). So the glistening rich browns, reds and oranges of the mixture, the tang of beer and sherry - all these things are autumn to me.
There was too much mixture to be made in our usual cake batter bowl, so we'd get a new washing up bowl and I would stand on a kitchen chair, my hands squeezing the mixture together as my Nan threw in a dash more sherry than the recipe required.
The recipe was falling apart even when I was tiny - torn from a magazine in the early years of my Grandparents marriage, the paper was dry and brown as an autumn leaf, already starting to crumble. It was kept tucked in plastic and sandwiched in a cookbook for most of the year.
My own copy was scribbled down from the original, typed up on my vintage typewriter and stuck in our recipe book.
This year Rich and I drank red wine and decided to make them ridiculously late on a Saturday evening, before leaving the mixture overnight to be squashed firmly into tubs on Sunday morning. It's an incredibly nostalgic process for me, one that I no longer have to do stood on a kitchen chair, but perhaps one day that's exactly what my own son or daughter will be doing.
One superstition that I thought was singular to our family was wishing on the pudding - everyone would be called in to stir the mixture three times clockwise before thrusting the wooden spoon into the middle while making a wish. It's something that we do even now, in our tiny kitchen, just the two of us.
But in googling the origins of Christmas puddings, I discovered this was an old superstition - to symbolise the journey of the Three Wise Men. Perhaps the wishing part was a more recent addition.
Now that I'm older, I really do appreciate taking the time to revisit these old traditions of my childhood. Next up will be making gingerbread men in December - my Grandad always gave them red noses because of the cold!
What are your Christmas traditions or long held memories?