There’s something very Victorian about a dense, dark, Christmas pudding, but its history goes back much further. Fifteenth-century standing ‘pyes’ used butter and dried fruit to preserve meat and even fish to last over the winter and provide for the twelve day Christmas feast. The boiling of the pie derived from the favoured medieval one-pot dish of pottage, which on special occasions was served aflame with brandy. The dish hasn’t always been regarded favourably: in 1714 George I scandalised Quakers when he enjoyed his Christmas pottage, which they regarded as ‘the invention of the scarlet whore of babylon’. The dish finally took its current form in the early nineteenth-century and has been enjoyed (and reviled) as part of Christmas fare ever since.
Maggie Black, ‘The Englishman’s Plum Pudding’, History Today, 31, 12 (Dec., 1981), http://www.historytoday.com/maggie-black/englishmans-plum-pudding.
Oliver Thring, ‘Consider Christmas Pudding’, The Guardian Online, 21 December 2010, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/dec/21/consider-christmas-pudding.