This Sunday is Stir Up Sunday, a day traditionally set aside for making Christmas pudding with family. To celebrate, we are sharing an extract from Charlotte Abraham’s Hygge – a beautifully written and stylishly designed guide to living a more hygge life – where Charlotte explains why the event is so special to her. The extract is also available as an audio clip, and would make lovely listening while you stir those currants.
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“I love the rituals of cooking, too. They mark the passage of the year, and are a way of rooting us, connecting us with our family history. I am not religious, but I observe Stir up Sunday – the last Sunday before Advent – because it reminds me of my grandmother. She would stand me on a chair in front of the mixing bowl and when all the fruit and the spices and the flour and the sugar were measured out, I would stir, three times clockwise, with a wooden spoon. I must confess… sometimes I forget which Sunday is the one before Advent. But there is always a Sunday in late November or early December on which I make the pudding, and when I call the boys to come and stir, I tell them the story of their great-grandmother’s famous fruit mix.
All this is deeply hyggelig, but it is also profoundly human. We all use food to create personal and cultural memories, and communal eating has been used to bind social groups together ever since the early hunter-gatherers stopped their wanderings and established the first villages ten thousand years ago. As the developmental psychologist and author Susan Pinker writes in The Village Effect: Why Face-to-Face Contact Matters, ‘when people share food, they’re more likely to feel that they are part of a group and to compromise to resolve a conflict’. However, while hygge may not have a monopoly on these eating rituals, it seems to me that the concept does offer an alternative approach – and it is one that I find rather appealing.”
If you are feeling inspired to follow tradition and make a Christmas Pudding this weekend, try Johnny Shepherd’s recipe from Puddings.