As I mentioned in my earlier blog (O (Old) Christmas Tree) about Christmas decorations and how we get them from storage in our loft/attics etc at the beginning of each Christmas season. We check the plugs and fuses of our old Christmas lights and see how many bulbs still work. I think the oldest lights I have are over 40 years old and we drape them around our 45-year-old Christmas tree I had when growing up.
Last Christmas when we were in the Philippines visiting our family, we saw amazing Christmas decorations and lights almost everywhere. We bought back from halfway around the globe, one particular Christmas decoration which is popular in the Philippines. It is called a paról.
A paról is a star-shaped or star patterned lantern, the shape representing the Star of Bethlehem that guided The Three Kings to the birthplace and manger of Jesus. A paról can come in various sizes and designs/patterns as long as it is a five-pointed star shape and can be illuminated. They are traditionally made out bamboo and paper. Nowadays they can be constructed from materials such as plastic, glass, thick strong polythene & light metal strips They are illuminated by candles or electric light bulbs. paróls are traditional to Filipinos at Christmas as the Christmas tree is to us. Modern electric/battery powered paróls can produce colourful complex patterns like some of our home Christmas lights.
A Christmas Pudding, sometimes cream or custard etc are added as a topping.
Stir-up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent. The custom comes from when families & relatives gathered together and stir the ingredients of a traditional British Christmas pudding before the first Sunday in Advent as observed by Anglican churches.
There is a Collect (prayer)
‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’
Also, It allows time for the pudding to mature properly for the month before the Christmas Day meal. By tradition, each member of a family or participant is encouraged to make a wish as they stir.
The pudding mixture is stirred from East to West in honour and remembrance of the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus with their gifts.
In some households, silver coins are added to the pudding mix. It is believed that finding a coin brings good luck.
I remember as a child in the 1960s, my mother would traditionally put & stir ‘silver’ sixpence coins known colloquially as a tanner into the mixture. Later when the UK went decimal ‘other’ silver coins were added.
It is believed that like Christmas trees and Christmas decorations, Christmas puddings were introduced to the UK in the 1800s, by Prince Albert, who was the husband and consort to Queen Victoria.
There can be some variations of ingredients, traditional puddings mainly contain dried fruits, raisins etc. The mixture and cake are held together by egg and suet & sometimes moistened by treacle or molasses. It is flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and or other spices. Measured alcohol is added, mainly brandy but dark beers or stout can be used.
Before the pudding is served during the Christmas meal, some households set light to the pudding as the alcohol content allows it to burn briefly as part of the serving tradition.
The pudding is usually aged for a month or more,[or even a year until the following Christmas Day; the high alcohol content of the pudding prevents it from spoiling during this time.