Sunday, November 30, 2008


By Michele Ann Young

I am definitely a creature of habit. And the holiday season kicks me into ritual mode.

First comes the Christmas pudding ritual. I know lots of people don’t like it, but to me it’s a taste of the past and a wish for the future.

At our house the pud ritual starts in November. I go to the closest bulk food store and buy the freshest of dried fruits—which probably sounds a bit of an oxymoron, but there really is a difference. I use the same recipe every year and have the list in my address book ready to go.

My girls usually help with the weighing and chopping of ingredients. Christmas pudding is all about weighing—and steaming, but that comes later. We always add Guinness to our pudding, makes it lovely and dark. My husband loves to drink the rest of the can. That’s his ritual.

Then we stir. Each person goes up to the bowl alone, takes the wooden spoon, and stirs. While stirring they make a wish for the coming year. No telling your wish or it won’t come true.

After spending the night in the fridge, the mix goes into antique chin pudding bowls and is steamed for eight hours fraught with constant checking to make sure I haven’t let the water boil away. Pudding watching is crucial, so no other arrangements can be made for that day. Last Sunday was Christmas pudding stir up day.

On Christmas day, the pudding arrives on the table to a fanfare and blazing. Brandy is wonderful for this. My husband drinks the rest of the bottle. That is his ritual.

After make-the-pudding-day, it is time to write Christmas cards. I always have a glass of sherry when I write my cards. Today is card-writing Sunday.


What rituals do you have when preparing for the holidays?


  1. Michele,
    I am laughing at your husband drinking all the leftovers. He and mine would get along well! I make my mom's pumpkin bread and make extra for my dad and brother so they get a taste of Christmases past, too. I love how it makes the house smell like the holidays. I think I'll go have a slice of the Thanksgiving pumpkin bread now before the natives get up and discover my secret stash! Fun post, thanks for sharing!

  2. Not only did this make me feel nostaglic, but it was quite interesting too. I had no idea how much work went into a real pudding. Projects like this that take a long time and involve the entire family do take on a magic of their own. Thank you, Michele!

  3. Michele
    We do the same here at my place and have done forever I used to help my Mum with the Chrissy pudding and cake and now my children have helped me. I boil my pudding in the cloth and everyone has a stir and makes a wish as well I also put marbles in the pot while cooking in case I engrossed in a book.
    I also make about 6 Chrissy cakes as gifts and while these are cooking I must have carols playing and I write out cards and wrap presents.
    But all the effort that goes into making them is worth it.
    Have Fun

  4. Yes, I like it when the house smells of the holidays too Marie.

    Christina, it is nice to connect with the past, I hope my girls will keep up the tradition.

    Helen, so cool. I know lots of families who do this, so it is a real sense of belonging to something bigger. And Christmas cakes too. Love 'em.

  5. Great post Michele!
    Cookie making was always my Christmas ritual, but time and dietary restraints have cut me down to making only one or two varieties. I used to bake bread, too, and I miss that. Perhaps I should try pudding....

  6. Michele,
    Thanks for sharing your traditions! I don't bake much, because my kids aren't big on sugar (how I helped create them, I will never know), and if I bake, I eat it all. Good in theory, bad when the scale groans in pain.

    My husband is REALLY Polish, so every year the kids help him make a Polish dinner for Christmas Eve. We have pierogies, pigs in a blanket, and sauerkraut. Bing Crosby must be playing for both that and the putting up of the's not Christmas without Bing and White Christmas! Oh, and every year we watch A Christmas Story, too. "You'll shoot your eye out!"

    Thanks for the sweet post. I love this time of year.