Well..... Rani asked about Christmas pudding...
To begin with, I'm not crazy and I realize we still have a way to go till Christmas, however, the best Christmas puddings are made at least 4-5 weeks before Christmas allowing them to almost mature. The best puddings have a while to get themselves right before Christmas day.
We make ours according to British traditions (man is Aussie... at some stage that was the same thing). The style we have made, the round pudding is traditional style, for most of the twentieth century, particularly later on, the Christmas puddings have been made in bowls so they did lose their round shape. To make them in a round you have to first make the mix, then cut a piece of cloth and make sure there is a layer of flour all around the pudding. , wrap it up tight and tie it with string (once more, Jute to the rescue) and then boil them, the time varies by weight but ours was mammoth, so it took 6 hours.
When they finish, you dry them, and hang them (all still in the cloth and the seal made by the flour) in your pantry till Christmas.
Traditionally, everyone was allowed to help stir the pudding and you also threw a sixpence into the mix for luck.
Our recipe was from mother-in-law.
250 g flour
250 g breadcrumbs
500 g of butter
500 g of brown sugar
500 g of currants
500 g of sultanas
250 g of citrus peel
250 g of raisins.
1 gill brandy
half nutmeg (grated)
125 g slivered almonds
1 level dessertspoon mixed spice
1 level teaspoon carb soda.
As you can see, its SOOOOOO rich, but was also SOOOOO huge. You only actually eat little servings at Christmas. This will easily serve everyone at Christmas dinner about twice. (on different days) We also modified somewhat.... no currents, we used dates and apricots instead and used fresh citrus zest instead of dried citrus peel.
Serving it on Christmas day is great fun.
You put it on a big plate, you pour brandy over it and you set it on fire (obviously not for long) and trim it with a sprig of Holly on top. Then you either put some icing on it (we've never done this), or you have it with brandy butter (which is like really rich alcoholic icing, a favourite of Man's grandmother), you can have it with custard, or, my personal favourite, or you have it piping hot with cold whipped cream *drool*.
Hope this helped understand the strange hanging bundle in the previous post.
Another similarly strange custom is that of the Christmas cake, which is made months before Christmas too (the longer the better).
One of the best Christmas puddings I ever had was 3 years old. It was marvelous. I don't think I will ever have one like it again.