Voices in the Coalshed: Stir Up Sunday
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Voices in the Coalshed: Stir Up Sunday

Have you missed Stir-Up Sunday?

It’s a phrase referring to when all members of the family- old and young – made and stirred the Christmas Pudding. The ritual took place 5 weeks before Xmas (the last Sunday before Advent) so it gave the pudding plenty of time to mature. It was a tradition familiar to many who grew up in mining communities, though not as widely practised today as it was as far back as Victorian times.

The term ‘Stir-Up’ is taken from the book of Common Prayer, “Stir up we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”. The term became an informal invitation for families (larger in those days) to gather in the kitchen around a brown, earthenware bowl of dried fruit, spices, suet, treacle, brown sugar… in fact traditionally 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his disciples.

The physical stirring of the pudding was shared and as each child or grown up took a turn, they made a wish for the coming new year. The pudding was stirred anticlockwise to honour the Three Wise Men’s journey from East to West in search of Jesus. Many households added silver sixpences (2 and 1/2p) as it was thought to bring good luck if one was later found.

The tradition of bringing in the pudding, alight and flaming, is even recorded in Charles Dickens “Christmas Carol.”

For those of you with under 5s why not book a place on our Wacky Wednesday Christmas Special where we will be stirring our own Christmas Pud as well as enjoying lots of fun with traditional activities and …… meeting a very special person!

Wacky Wednesday Christmas Special – National Coal Mining Museum (ncm.org.uk)


This weeks Voices in the Coalshed was researched and written by volunteer Lesley. If you would like to join Voices in the Coal Shed, please get in touch with voicesinthecoalshed@gmail.com


The cartoon image is created by Arthur Atkinson, which forms part of our collection.