People do what to their Christmas puddings?

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People do what to their Christmas puddings?

Christmas dishes may vary across different cultures, but there are some constant items that everyone embraces. These include mince pies, trifle and (of course) Christmas pudding. Right? At least, that’s what digital editor Annzra Denita used to think until she spent Christmas with people outside her family.

One of the benefits of growing up in a multi-cultural community is experiencing various traditions and celebrations. I was raised Catholic, but I still got to celebrate Diwali with my Tamil and Hindu family. When I was in high school, I got to celebrate Eid with my Muslim friend. And for Christmas everyone, regardless of background, celebrated with us.

This is why for the longest time I assumed Christmas was celebrated in the same way universally (religious aspects aside). All my friends and family got together with loved ones for a meal, exchanged gifts and had either Christmas pudding or Christmas cake. For my family it was pudding. Both my grandmothers would make one each year. They would hide coins in the pudding (back in the day when coins were made of pure silver and you could safely put them in there), cut it up and distribute to various people, similar to how we would distribute trays of sweetmeats at Diwali.

My paternal grandmother was a pillar in her church community, so her pudding went to priests, nuns and to the Hindu members of my dad’s family. My maternal grandmother (who was Tamil) would distribute her pudding to her six children and their families. When my maternal grandmother died in 2014, my mother took over the Christmas pudding duties. She would boil the pudding in a big pot on a gas skottel and freeze the pudding until she could deliver it to the family. She always kept a piece for us to have with tea when we got back from midnight Mass. That was our own little tradition. We would warm it up and eat it as is or with a bit of custard, and I always assumed that this is how everyone had their pudding. Then when I was 16, we spent Christmas at a family friend’s house and my life was changed forever.

Another tradition in my family is to include people who would otherwise be alone for the holiday in our celebrations. One year we invited one of our church members, Jill Mann, to have lunch with us, and to return the favour she hosted Christmas lunch the next year.

We had a pleasant lunch and when it came time for dessert, Jill disappeared into the kitchen. She insisted that she did not need help. While we were all sitting in the dining room, she turned off the lights and then walked with a Christmas pudding that was on fire! It was the coolest thing I had ever seen! Up until this point, I had never seen food on fire. Not intentionally anyway. The pudding burned blue with hints of orange at the top, and it was honestly one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. My mother and father were equally shocked, and Jill thought it was funny that we have never experienced this before but she was glad to share her tradition with us. Sadly, Jill passed away a few years ago. I will forever remember her as the person who brought a little magic back into Christmas and who showed me there is still a lot to discover when it comes to this remarkable holiday.

This year, I will be spending Christmas with my roommate and other “orphans” who cannot be with family due to the pandemic. I cannot wait to share this tradition that Jill passed onto me with them, and I look forward to experiencing their traditions in our diverse little get-together.

Annzra Denita Article by: Annzra Denita

Annzra Denita is the digital editor of TASTE. Eating good food is her absolute favourite thing and making good food is a close second.

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