Friday, November 23, 2012

Stir up Sunday

This Sunday , the last before Advent is  known as Stir up Sunday and is traditionally the day to make the Christmas pudding.The name comes from the collect for day in the Common Book of Prayer -

Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people, that they bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by you be richly rewarded: through Jesus Christ Our Lord. 

I did a bit of reading and found out that:
  •  your pudding should be stirred from east to west to remember the journey taken by the wise men 
  •  should  have 13 ingredients to remember Christ and the disciples.
And , of course, it  should contain a sixpence bringing good luck to the finder!  My grandmother always put a sixpence in her's, I think nowadays it's a fifty pence piece!

I was surprised to see how many newspapers and food blogs, including my favourite one were running articles with plenty of pudding and cake recipes in time for this weekend. It seems that this tradition is still popular. We make a home made pudding in our family - my sister has made it this year but I thought I would put a non traditional one in the freezer for a another occasion. This weekend I will make my Christmas cake , the fruit is ready soaking and today I made homemade mincemeat.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Preparing for Advent with Soap and Water.

Advent is my favourite season and I have begun to plan how we will celebrate - mostly with familiar rituals that we have celebrated every year since the children were little. However, it is always a joy to discover new ideas. Over the last few days I have been reading about the tradition of cleaning ones house over Advent. In Scandinavian, Polish and Irish homes it is part of the preparation for Christmas to have a big clear up in readiness for visitors and the hospitality of the season. It mirrors  the internal clearing out and spiritual preparation of Advent which is a penitential season - albeit  also one of quiet joy and suppressed excitement. The idea reminded me of the Benedictine attitude to work - ora et labora - that work and prayer, contemplation and action  are essentially linked. The quiet , repetitive nature of  quotidian tasks can aid prayer and meditation.

Our house is in need of a thorough clean right now and as I think ahead to the busy Christmas season it seems like a good idea to use this time of preparation to do a few timely domestics. Cleaning out cupboards in the kitchen, the fridge, the freezer and stocking up on baking essentials ready for Advent baking are some of the jobs I'm tackling.  It feels good when the job is done and I can practice the presence of God in an act of service to those who will visit our home!