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Christmas treats – traditions

PERSONAL STORIES of the wonder of Christmases past and the hundreds of years of tradition make up this special holiday.

Food carries much of this sensory significance. The pudding we now associate with Christmas dates to the 15th century, when it originally contained meat (beef or mutton), onions, root vegetables and dried fruit. As more dried fruit became available in the 16th century, these were added and meat and vegetables cut back until only suet and sometimes carrot remained.  

Holly, and a sprig of arbutus, topped the pudding to keep away witches. The insertion of charms and coins could date from Stuart or Victorian England. Only the coin remains of the six objects traditionally mixed into the pudding for luck: two rings for love, a sixpence for prosperity, a trouser button for the bachelor, a thimble for the spinster and a little pig for the glutton.

It is not known who made the first cake with fruit, honey, nuts and alcohol, but it dates from before the birth of Christ. Initially bread with fruit, rich fruit cakes originate in the 18th century and were made to reduce spoilage and for their travelling qualities.

Queen Elizabeth I is credited with the first gingerbread men. She favoured important visitors with likenesses of themselves stamped in the spicy dough.

SWEET MARILYN supplies cakes and puddings, including Christmas puddings with brandy butter, moist fruit cakes and crisp gingerbread men. Contact her on 282 458 391 or treat yourself at the Women’s Network Christmas Fair, on December 1 from 11am to 5pm at the Hotel Garbe Armação de Pêra. There will also be many other stalls to inspire you for Christmas.