River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Christmas Traditions 1: Mince Pies

December 2004

A look at one of our Christmas traditions

Mince pies became popular in the Victorian age, but their history is a long one!

In the twelfth century, knights returning from the Crusades in the Holy Land introduced to Europe many Middle Eastern ways of cooking, which mixed spices with savoury. Recipes of meats cooked with fruits and sweet spices became very popular.

In Elizabethan times, mince pies were still a mixture of meat and fruit and were called "shrid" pies because they contained shredded meat and suet. The meat and suet were mixed with dried fruit such as raisins and currants, and it was traditional to add three spices - cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg - which stood for the three gifts given to Jesus by the Wise Men. The mixture was baked in an oblong pastry case to represent Jesus' crib. A little pastry baby often decorated the lid.

It was thought lucky to eat a mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas. Each pie would be eaten in a different house in order to bring good luck to the household and the eater for the next twelve months!


Ps Any volunteers for the 12 days of Christmas mince pie ritual?

Ray Thompson

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