We are moving into my favorite time of the year and so I am going to share some very wholesome, folksy content to show you how I keep up some old traditions in my home during the holiday season, by explaining Stir Up Sunday.

Stir Up Sunday is a traditional day for beginning holiday feast preparations in the UK. At some point it became customary on the last Sunday of Trinity to “stir-up” concoctions such as mincemeat, Christmas puddings, and fruitcake, which need a good long time to sit on the shelf and develop flavor. While it seems counterintuitive to let these things sit for such a long time, there is enough brandy in them to preserve them. It’s not to worry.

The day takes its name from a verse in The Book of Common Prayer published in 1662 but seems to have taken on a much more secular meaning during the Victorian era as the following article details.

Dallas, Eneas Sweetland. Once a Week. Bradbury and Evans., 1868.

In other countries it is also traditional to start the holiday baking preparation ahead of time like this, so it seems like the date was just a useful mnemonic for English homemakers. While our household is not remotely religious, we do find it useful to adhere to the traditional agrarian cycle embedded in the feast days and holidays of the church calendar.

My stir up Sunday was spent mixing up those ingredients I will need for traditional holiday baking that you can’t find in the US, including my mince for pies, Mixed Peel and Mixed Spice.

My Traditional Mincemeat recipe is very loosely based on a receipt shared by Elizbeth Cleland in 1755, as it’s as close to my family recipe as I have ever found. I have tried hiding various amounts of beef tongue in my mincemeat over the years, but the family always objects to this practice.

 Receipt for Making Minced pies from  A New and Easy Method of Cookery. Edinburgh, Scotland: W. Gordon, C. Wright, S. Willison, J. Bruce, 1755. pp 81.
Cleland, Elizabeth. A New and Easy Method of Cookery. Edinburgh, Scotland: W. Gordon, C. Wright, S. Willison, J. Bruce, 1755. pp 81.

If you want a nice tasting mince pie, it’s quite important to mince everything very finely. You can see above that it was once served as one large pie but today often we tuck the mixture into little bite size pastries made with shortcrust.

You can sprinkle these with powdered sugar or serve them with brandy butter, but I like them as is.

Since this is the proper day to stir things up, I thought I would announce my personal news that I am retiring from clinical practice to focus on my historical research full-time. My plan is to work on creating digital content here on the website and soon I will be releasing my first vlog. So please turn up for that.

Published by Stephany Riley Hoffelt

If you want to read more about me, it's on the website www.domestic-medicine.com

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