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Catholic Activity: Stir-Up Sunday - First Sunday in Advent


  • Plum Pudding or cake recipe

Prep Time

2 hours


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Traditions for the First Sunday of Advent, including Stir-Up Pudding.


The traditional Collect (or opening prayer) of the last Sunday of the Church year began "Stir up the wills of Thy faithful people, we beseech Thee, O Lord..." With this request to God to "stir up" our wills, this day was traditionally called Stir-Up Sunday. Because the Ordinary Form celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King on the last Sunday of the year, Stir-Up Sunday is usually the First Sunday of Advent. The traditional Collect of the First Sunday is asking God to stir up His might: "Stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, and come." Many families create a traditional plum pudding or fruit cake or some other recipe that all the family and guests can "stir-up." This activity of stirring-up the ingredients symbolizes our hearts that must be stirred in preparation for Christ's birth. We begin our Advent journey to Christ's birthday, and the Church joins in its prayer begging Christ to come, to hurry and do not delay.

The batter needs to be mixed up well, and everyone in the family and guests should give a good stir. Plum pudding are a classic Christmas dessert, as we recall Bob Cratchit's Christmas dinner in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Plum puddings are similar to fruitcake, except they are more like a rich, dense spice cake. The pudding contains many candied fruits, lemon and orange peels, raisins and currants. After stirring up the pudding, it is then steamed this day, but not consumed until Christmas. Waiting until Christmas day gives the "aging" so the full flavor will be experienced. Serve with the delicious plum pudding sauce over the top.

For fun, add tokens into the stirred batter before steaming. Each token has significance for the finder. Insert items like a coin (wealth in the new year), silver charms in shape of a button (person will be bachelor for another year), a thimble (spinsterhood for another year), a horseshoe (good luck), a ring (marriage in the upcoming year) and so on. These items can also be wrapped in aluminum foil so they will be easier to find when eating the pudding.

There are many different recipes for plum pudding. Use the recipe below, a cherished family recipe, or whatever you may find. The point of this activity is to get everyone in your family involved.

Plum pudding and fruitcake require acquired tastebuds. For those that cannot abide the taste, prepare a favorite cake or bread recipe, and have everyone in the family give a vigorous stir to the batter.

Jennifer Gregory Miller Jennifer G. Miller

Activity Source: Original Text (JGM) by Jennifer Gregory Miller, © Copyright 2003-2023 by Jennifer Gregory Miller