The Story of the traditional Christmas pudding

Christmas is just around the corner, and “Training Center Raya-London” would like to please you with an interesting holiday story. As beginners and advanced English learners know, there are two text – one in Bulgarian and one in English – which would make the learning process easy and more intriguing.

Today we will tell you about our hosts’ traditional sweet desert – the Christmas pudding. Evidence of its origin go all the way back to Medieval England. Later, the recipe is spread to English-influenced countries – the rest of the  United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and the Caribbean region.

At first, the dish was also known as “Plum pudding”, even though over time plums were not the only dried fruit included in the recipe, sometimes they might not even be part of the ingredients at all.

Almost every family has their own cooking recipe passed down to generations. Because it is made on a religious holiday, the recipe includes many symbolic references to Biblical texts and history of Jesus Christ. Thus, its ingredients are 13, corresponding to the enlightened disciples’ number and Christ himself. The mixing starts from East to West, which is also the three Wise Men’s journey direction before they attend the holy birth of Christ. Traditionally, every family member stirs everything three times in the same direction while making a wish.

Let’s see the ingredients that go in the Christmas pudding! The main ingredient is dried fruits: raisins, French grape, all mixed with animal fat, brown sugar, breadcrumbs, lemon juice and zest, orange zest, flour, mixed herbs, eggs, milk, and brandy. This mixture is very different from the original one, which consisted of porridge with dried fruits boiled in milk, topped with cinnamon and saffron. Later in time, alcohol (beer or brandy), eggs, and flour were added in it for thickening.

The pudding’s round shape is due to a “boiling cloth” invention, which tightens and gives shape to the mixed ingredients and is put in boiling water. Later, the pudding was also cooked on steam. It used to be served hot, right away it was ready, but nowadays it could also be served at a room temperature. It is decorated with a piece of holly, topped with brandy, and set on fire which represents the passions of Christ. There are also cooking variations regarding the toppings – it could be topped with butter and brandy sauce, cream, crème caramel, or with sweet béchamel sauce. There is a small silver coin which is often hidden in the pudding and the person who finds it is considered to be lucky or wealthy. During hard times, people would miss out the eggs, and the brandy would be substituted for iced tea.

The name ‘Christmas pudding’ firstly appeared in the book of the popular chef and recipe collector Eliza Acton during the Victorian era. This book – “Modern Cookery for Private Families” became bestseller in 1845. The famous dessert is also mentioned in the lovely novel “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

Dear friends, we hope that you will have the opportunity to try or cook a Christmas pudding for your holiday table yourself. Don’t forget to switch the article to its English version from the button at the top right corner of our page! Please pay attention to the translation specificities and accept our best wishes for holy and great holidays!


Author: Iveta Radeva

Training Centre Raya London is a new and fastly developing English Language School specialized in teaching English as a second language. Founded in 2015 we are small enough to provide a personal service, but large enough to have very good facilities and resources for the students to learn English in UK.