Christmas pudding – how it came about

For most people in the UK, and many other countries, the traditional Christmas pudding, sometimes called plum pudding, is an essential element of festive fayre. However, today’s Christmas pudding is quite different from the original version. Here’s an insight into its evolution.

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Originating in the 14th century, and referred to as ‘frumenty’, its main ingredients were mutton and beef, along with prunes, currants, raisins, spices, and wine. It had a soup-like consistency and was often consumed while fasting prior to Christmas celebrations.

Over time, the traditional frumenty slowly evolved in to what became known as plum pudding, the original soup-like consistency had eggs added to thicken it, along with other ingredients such as dried fruits and breadcrumbs and, importantly, beer or spirits were also added to make the pudding even tastier. By 1650, it had been adopted as the traditional dessert to be served at Christmas dinner. But, sadly, it was later banned by the Puritans because it was considered as an undesirable custom.

The pudding was later reinstated by King George, in 1714, and by the Victorian era it had become a firm favourite for Christmas celebrations, in much the same form as it is today.

There are some lucky traditions associated with Christmas puddings, such as:

  • It should be made using exactly 13 ingredients, which represent Jesus and his 12 disciples.
  • Each family member should stir the mixture using a wooden spoon.
  • The pudding should be adorned with a sprig of holly – holly has long thought to be a special lucky plant endowed with healing powers and able to protect the inhabitants of a house, hence the traditional Christmas holly wreath often adorning front doors.
  • Brandy should be used to soak the pudding, and also poured over it before lighting the pudding at the Christmas dinner table – this represents the ‘spreading of the Christmas spirit’ – literally!

Also popular in the past, and still continued by some families today, is the placing of a silver coin somewhere near the centre of the pudding which was also considered a lucky tradition, reported to bring luck for the person finding the coin, as the pudding is served.

Some people also include other favours or tokens in their Christmas puddings, such as the ‘bachelor’s button’ which, if found by a single man, meant that he would remain single throughout the year; a silver thimble, if found by a single woman, meant that they would remain single throughout the year; whereas, a ring found in the pudding meant that the person would get married during the coming year. The ring was also used to denote the arrival of wealth in the family.

If you’re not lucky enough to find a coin or ring in your Christmas pudding this year, you could always try your luck at Christmas slots games online and see if you can win any of the amazing prizes available!