My maternal grandparents were German, so perhaps not surprisingly our family Christmas traditions were conducted along German lines. On Nikolaustag, celebrated on 6 December, we were given some little gifts. These appeared miraculously in a pair of your shoes, which you’d left outside your door on going to bed the night before. Naughty children were told that their shoes would contain only a lump of coal. We opened our larger presents on Christmas Eve, Weihnachtsabend, not on Christmas Day.
The meal we ate on Christmas Eve after attending a Christmas Eve carol service and opening presents, was usually cold but had taken on an Australian twist. We would have smoked salmon, cold turkey, ham, and salads. These days we also have prawns. We finished the meal with a pudding, which was definitely an Australian rather than a German tradition.
I don’t remember my grandmother cooking the pudding but I do remember her other Christmas cooking including pfefferkuchen, s-kuchen and stollen. There was lots of Christmas food throughout the month of December.
When serving the pudding on Christmas Eve I do remember that once my grandmother was so liberal with the brandy for the flambé that it seemed the blue flames would never stop. One year she made an ice-cream pudding. I’m not sure whether this was quite properly German or even Australian, we only ever had this once.
I do like rich fruit-and-suet pudding served with brandy butter. In 1985, the year after I was married, I took part in a Christmas-cooking course presented by an English Cordon Bleu instructor. One of the dishes she demonstrated was a Christmas pudding made with suet, and I’ve been making it every Christmas since, for thirty-five years.
This afternoon my son Peter and I made this year’s pudding, two actually. We had soaked the dried fruit in brandy for a week first.
The recipe is very reliable and the puddings are always delicious.