The first day of Advent and the beginning of the countdown to Christmas Day is tomorrow. This year Sunday falls upon the first Sunday nearest to the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle. This year both the feast and the first day of Advent fall upon the same date, the 30th of November.
Traditionally, Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord, both in His birth 2000 years ago and in the end of the world. We prepare our souls for that day when we stand before Him, and for death. So, fasting, prayer and confession is what this season is about. The celebrations are supposed to wait until Christmas Eve.
With that in mind, tomorrow is the day we make our plum puddings. But we don't eat them, we leave them to age. They can then be eaten at Christmas. Remember, this is the start of the fasting season - useful for those who need to go on a diet, and for those who need to work on their will power.
On the first Sunday of Advent, the traditional opening prayer (or Collect) of the Mass prays: "Stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, and come." 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.
With this request to God to "stir up" His might, this day was traditionally called Stir-Up Sunday. 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.
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.
Related Link: Stir-Up Sunday - First Sunday in Advent ~ Catholic Culture
Advent ~ Catholic Encyclopaedia