Fire up the Christmas pudding!

Posted by | December 7, 2016

Not every place has the distinction of being named after a Christmas treat. Tradition holds that Pudding Ridge, NC, in western Davie County, got its name one rainy day in February 1781 during a Revolutionary War engagement. British General Cornwallis was driving his troops through the soggy hillsides in hard pursuit of American General Nathanael Greene, before finally battling his rival near the current day site of Guilford College in Greensboro. The crossing at Dutchman Creek, until the early 1900s the main crossing toward Yadkin County, was so boggy and thick with mud that it reminded the British of pudding (by which they meant “Christmas pudding.”)

The name stuck with the colonists, who would have been as familiar with Christmas pudding as their rivals and understood the reference immediately. Fortunately most Appalachian traditions associated with this classic seasonal treat have a much more positive connotation than that of being chased by enemies through the mud.

1876 ad for plum pudding reads: “Head of the family, try Atmore’s mince meat and genuine English plum pudding / Clay, Cosack & Co., Buffalo, N.Y.”

In many of the region’s households, part of the fun of eating Christmas pudding is finding a trinket that predicts your fortune for the coming year. For instance, finding a coin means you will become wealthy. Find a button, you’ll remain a bachelor, find a thimble, you’ll stay a spinster, but find a ring —ah!— find a ring, and you’ll be married soon enough. The idea of hiding something in the pudding comes from the tradition in the Middle Ages of hiding a bean in a cake that was served on Twelfth Night. Whoever found the bean became “king” for the rest of the night.

There are more symbols tucked into that luscious black dessert. A traditional Christmas pudding contains 13 ingredients representing Christ and his disciples. When you light the brandy that is poured over the pudding (or in the case of Carolina Christmas pudding, the whiskey) the flame represents Christ’s passion, while the garnish of holly is a reminder of His Crown of Thorns. A proper Christmas pudding is always stirred from East to West in honor of the three Wise Men. Puddings are traditionally prepared five weeks before Christmas, most frequently on the Sunday of the week before the start of Advent.

sources: “Christmas at Biltmore Estate/Asheville NC”

Christmas+in+Appalachia Christmas+pudding Pudding+Ridge+NC appalachia appalachian+culture appalachian+mountains+history

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