Tag: Christmas

Stir-up Sunday

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.




Shortbread Recipe

Shortbread is my favourite cookie/biscuit. It is a definite mainstay to my Christmas table. I love the crispy buttery taste of it. It looks simple but full of goodness and taste simply delicious.  It could be very expensive to buy so it is more or less a treat for special occasions such as Christmas and Hogmanay (New Year’s eve).

I especially like it with a big mug of hot chocolate, to which I dunk my shortbread when no one is looking! 😉

WalkersShortbread apparently originated from Scotland as early as the 12th Century but it was Mary, Queen of Scot that popularised the biscuit. It might be even named after her one of shortbread designs called petticoat tails; Walkers shortbread are the best known exporter of these cookies. Shortbread is made from butter, flour and white sugar. It is the high content of butter that makes it crumbly, which gave its name shortbread.  Short was an old meaning of crumbly.

Shortbread is such a treat that it should not only be eaten on Christmas and New Year/eve.  Below is a fantastic recipe from the BBC.



Shortbread Recipe


  • 125g/4oz butter
  • 55g/2oz caster sugar, plus extra to finish
  • 180g/6oz plain flour

Preparation method

  1. Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
  2. Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth.
  3. Stir in the flour to get a smooth paste. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the paste is 1cm/½in thick.
  4. Cut into rounds or fingers and place onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with caster sugar and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.


O Come All Ye Faithful

O Come All Ye Faithful : Lyrics

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

O Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing all that hear in heaven God’s holy word.
Give to our Father glory in the Highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Nativity Celebrated in Our Homes

It is 9pm here in London, Christmas Eve.

A friend will be arriving soon.

Later we will attend Midnight Mass at our local church and welcome Christmas Day and celebrate the birth of a very special Baby.

As well as putting up festive decorations around the home, many like our family set up models of the Nativity so that we remember the true meaning of Christmas time.  Yes Christmas is the commemoration of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem in a manger as there was no more room at the local inn.

Nativity Celebrated in Our Home

Nativity scene, photo by PH Morton

X’mas Bauble from Ellis Island, New York


Photo by PH Morton


Photo by PH Morton

I love this Christmas bauble Peter & I bought at Ellis Island, where the Statue of Liberty is, when we went to New York in 2008.

I remember the American airport security were looking at it, scanned it and told us that it was procedure. They were actually very kind as they allowed us to take home a couple of  cans of Vienna sausage  in my hand luggage, told them it was hard to find American hotdogs in London. We fell in love with chilli dog when we had some while visiting Washington DC. The above bauble reminds us that we had such a lovely time during that holiday in 2008 .

Christmas Shopping in July

It is almost unheard of to go Christmas shopping when it is blisteringly hot.  But then again, why not?   If there are wonderful items to be had then there is no reason at all not to add more beautiful things to the Christmas decoration heirloom.  I am all for it.
The UK being eccentric too only here can such a shop open before the autumn when cooler weather then winter festive frost ice and snow that herald Xmas here


I love our Christmas decorations.  I always buy Christmas baubles when I see one.  We bought a huge one at Ellis Island at the Statue of Liberty shop when we were in New York one August time.  I also buy baubles here in the UK whenever I see them when I visit the museums anytime of the year.

19 July 2013 Last updated at 10:03

Truro Cathedral opens Christmas shop during heatwave

Truro Cathedral Shop, July 2013
The shop, which will sell nativity sets, advent calendars and decorations, will be open until Christmas

Climbing temperatures, which triggered a “level three” heat wave warning in the South West, have not put off the opening of a new Christmas shop.

The shop in Truro, Cornwall, will sell nativity sets, decorations and advent calendars.

Leased by Truro Cathedral, it will be opened later by its dean, the Very Reverend Roger Bush.

He admitted it seemed “a bit odd” to have a shop bedecked with Christmas items in the middle of July.

Truro Cathedral Shop, July 2013
The cathedral denied it was exploiting the commercialisation of Christmas

“We’ve had a successful Christmas shop within the cathedral for many years and we’ve found, oddly enough, that during the summer months when we get more visitors, people want to buy good quality Christmas products,” he said.

“I know it looks a bit odd, culturally, to have Christmas things in the middle of perhaps the hottest time we’ve had for many years, but we do believe there is a demand for this.”

The dean said opening a High Street shop did not mean the church was exploiting the commercialisation of Christmas.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong in being commercial, but we’ve got to be very careful how we get our message across,” he said.

“If there’s a genuine demand for things and we can meet that demand, it’s absolutely fine.”

The Three Kings(Magi) Epiphany

The Three Kings(Magi) guided by a new star.

The 5th of January is regarded as the eve of the 12th day after Christmas Day, however modern practice regarded the 6th as the 12th day of Christmas.  In Christianity, the 5th is when the three Kings also referred as the Magi (wise men) who were guided by a brilliant new star in the night sky, arrived from the east to visit and hail the new-born King  Jesus at His birthplace, Bethlehem in Judea. The 6th of January is also known as Epiphany (from the Greek word meaning ‘manifestation’) where Jesus is revealed/manifested to the world through the visit of the Magi,  as the Son of God.

The Three Kings(Magi) Epiphany

The Three Kings arriving at Bethlehem




The Three Kings arriving at Bethlehem

Before their arrival, the  wise men came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The three magi are known in the Western Christian church as;

  • Melchior  (also Melichior,Melchor), a Persian (modern-day Iran) scholar.
  • Caspar (also Gaspar, Jaspar, Jaspas, Gathaspa, and other variations), an Indian scholar.
  • Balthazar (also Balthasar, Balthassar, and Bithisarea), an Arabian scholar.


Having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,  after their sojourn they left for their own country by another path.

The Three Kings depart for home


A shrine the the three Kings(Magi) is located behind the high altar of Cologne Cathedral, Germany.


The relics were the Magi were taken from Milan by Frederick Barbarossa, The Holy Roman Emperor and presented to the Archbishop of Cologne Rainald of Dassel in 1164 and to this day pilgrims travel to the Cathedral to visit the shrine.

The Three Ships

It is thought that the 1833 English Christmas hymn/carol, ‘I Saw Three Ships (come sailing in) on Christmas Day In The Morning‘ was inspired by the delivery of the relics to Cologne.

A superstition is that all Christmas decorations in the home etc., must be taken down by  January 6th,  otherwise bad luck will ensue.




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