Advent The Seasonal Year

Stir-Up Sunday- A Thoroughly Festive British Tradition


Its Stir-Up Sunday and Christmas music is playing in the background, mulled wine is bubbling gently on the stovetop filling the home with a heady mix of citrus and spices. The family is gathered together on this last Sunday before the start of advent in the warm kitchen, to participate in the age-old Victorian tradition of stirring up the Christmas pudding.

This is the scene in our home on Stir-Up Sunday and this year, that’s this coming Sunday – the 21st of November!


What is Stir-Up Sunday?

In Britain, “Stir-Up Sunday” marks the last Sunday before advent begins and gets its name from the opening words of the collect for that Sunday in the Anglican Book of Common of Prayer. It’s a day when the family comes together and each member takes a turn in stirring the pudding and making a Christmas wish. Even Agatha Christie’s Poirot took his turn in stirring the Christmas pudding in “The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding”.

Stir up, we beseech thee, oh Lord, the wills of thy faithful people

The Book of Common Prayer

The Christmas pudding is of course one of our essential festive British Christmas traditions.

On Christmas day the pudding is much anticipated and looked forward to as it arrives with much flaming (literally) pomp and ceremony at the Christmas lunch table.

And the fun does not stop there, for apart from setting the pudding alight for its journey from the kitchen to the table, there are also coins or charms hidden inside and waiting to be found.

Stir-Up Sunday a thoroughly festive british tradition

Stir-Up Sunday Christmas Pudding Traditions

Well you know us Brits, there’s tradition behind everything in our culture and if I may say… we do tradition rather well!

We’ve had hundreds of years to practice and refine what we do best and the Victorians took making traditions to an absolute art form as they did most things… and the pudding is no different.

let’s take a quick look at all the pomp and ceremony that goes into making a Christmas pudding. You didn’t really think it was just about ingredients, did you?

  • There are 13 ingredients that go into a traditional Christmas pudding which represents Jesus and his 12 disciples.
  • It is traditionally stirred from east to west – yip you guessed it – its to remember the wise men who visited Jesus.
  • Traditionally one puts a silver coin or charms into the Christmas pud. These are added to the batter on Stir-Up Sunday and I have to say there was always much excitement in my childhood home on Christmas day if you found a coin in your portion of pudding as it is said to bring you luck!

Do be careful when biting down on your pudding though, you certainly do not what to crack a tooth on Christmas day!

I’ve Missed Making My Pudding on Stir-Up Sunday!

Not to worry. I know that pudding making can be a time-consuming exercise so why not try just making your own Christmas mince pies instead?

Christmas pies are quick, easy and you can get very creative in your presentation. I usually make little star tops for mine. I also like to add a bit of orange zest to the homemade shortcrust pastry for an extra Christmassy taste. You can grab my recipe in my Citrusy Shortcrust Pastry post that I shared a few years ago.

Stir-up Sunday Christmas Pudding

For me, Stir-Up Sunday is about gathering the family together. It doesn’t matter what it is that you make as long as you do it together and enjoy establishing your own family festive traditions. If you are not prepared for it this year then plan to mark it next year.

This year I will be using that British Icon, Mary Berry’s Traditional Chrismas Pudding recipe. I have the most adorable pudding basins that I can’t wait to use, although I am contemplating buying a few more and making some puddings as gifts.

Whatever you decide to do this Stir-Up Sunday 2021, may you have a blessed time with your loved ones celebrating it!