Stir Up Sunday
by Robert Veitch
Some traditions are worth keeping alive, and Stir up Sunday is one of them. Gather around the Christmas pudding bowl on the 20th November and stir with all your might!
Stir up Sunday occurs annually, on the final Sunday before Advent. It’s faded in popularity during recent years, many children growing up unaware it even exists. The phrase comes from the 1549 edition of the Book of Common Prayer, “Stir up, we beseech thee.”
Historically, it was a time for families to prepare the Christmas pudding together, teaching the children how to measure, mix, and bake ingredients. The optimum number of ingredients was thirteen, one for Jesus and a dozen for the disciples.
Stirring is hard work so family members take turns with the wooden spoon, whirling it around the mixing bowl with enthusiasm until the lactic acid kicks in, and its time to pass the bowl to other willing hands.
The mixture should be stirred from east to west, honouring the three wise men, though it seems to me this could be either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Wishes are made while stirring and like all wishes they never come true if made public.
Tradition dictated a silver sixpence be dropped into the mix, to bring good luck to the recipient who discovered it on Christmas Day in their pudding bowl. In our house, decimalisation and inflation meant sixpence evolved into 20 pence. The year my toddler sister dropped her bowl on the floor, the dog was the beneficiary. We had to follow the dog until the good luck passed through her system and out the other end on Boxing Day.
This year Stir up Sunday is the 20th November, so get your wooden spoons ready for action. A few days later, the Christmas countdown really begins, when they attempt to set fire to the Blue Peter advent crown!