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Hallo again to all.

It is the Sunday Last before Advent.* Variously called Stir-Up Sunday, Christ the King Sunday, or the 27th Sunday after Pentecost, it is the harbinger of Advent and the beginning of a season of rich tradition.

Explanations of 'What is Anglicanism?' often include a reference to Richard Hooker, who noted that Anglicanism is supported by the three pillars of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. Of late, it seems that reason is on holiday; scripture is as eternal as human language and modern archaeology permit. We seek comfort in tradition.

The formal name of many church celebrations includes the word 'feast'. We speak of the 'Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple' or the 'Feast of the Ascension', but in truth it is rare for the celebration of Principal Feasts to involve actual feasting in the mediaeval sense of the word. Mead and mutton are rarely involved any more. Often we feast on bread at the Eucharist but usually don't have a special meal afterwards.**

Christmas is different. We still engage in actual feasting at Christmas, and the ritual of Christmas dinner is an important part of many families' celebration of the birth of Christ. And Christmas dinner ought to include Christmas pudding. There is disagreement as to how ancient the tradition of Christmas pudding might be, though children sometimes see the served pudding itself as ancient.

While most of a Christmas dinner is cooked in the few days leading up to 25 December, a Christmas pudding is not. Christmas pudding is cooked in advance, and today is the traditional day to do that. A proper pudding takes several weeks to be ready to eat after it has been cooked, as the flavours of the various ingredients need time to meld and blend. The pudding contains enough alcohol that it does not require refrigeration as it ages. We have on occasion served a Christmas pudding that was made the previous year and stored on a pantry shelf. No one took ill from eating it.

We confess that in earlier phases of our life we used to serve store-bought Christmas puddings. We favour Harrods' offerings, which have been sold by mail since long before the advent of online ordering. We suppose that the Fortnum and Mason and Marks and Spencer puds are the benchmark classics, and everyone should experience a pudding from Figgy's in Devon at least once. But there is nothing quite like making your own.

We shan't tell you the details of our recipe, because you should devise your own, and there are hundreds available online. The BBC 'good food' website offers 30 different variations, though elsewhere in BBC archives you can find this 'Traditional Christmas pudding'. We will say that we eschew brandy or cognac and always use Pusser's rum in our puddings. And we always include chopped dried apricots and candied orange peel.

You really ought to try making your own Christmas pudding, even though the traditional day for doing so has passed. It is joyful, and your kitchen will smell wonderful for days. The pudding won't notice that it was aged four weeks instead of five. We got our original recipe from a paternal ancestor in East Sussex whose notes included 'store until Christmas under the bed in an unheated bedroom' but, alas, we have no unheated bedrooms. We store our cooked pudding on a window sill that gets no sun.

Though Christmas pudding is an old tradition if not actually ancient, there is some modern technology that really helps the serving of your pud at Christmastide. Instead of using a steamer to reheat it, you can use your microwave. Don't let anyone tell you that it isn't the same. The taste is indistinguishable. And you can make brandy butter almost instantly in a food processor; it will take less than one minute.

See you next week, while our pudding is aging.

Our Signatures

All of us at Anglicans Online

20 November 2016

*Oh my! Is Advent really upon us? We're not ready!

**Some parishes have feasts on feast days in the parish hall, but it seems to us to be rare for there to be a family feast at home afterwards save at Christmas and Easter.

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