We’ve been eating plum porridge – the earliest form of Christmas plum pudding - since the middle ages. In those days it was made of shin of beef or veal, stewed with dried fruit, spices, sugar, lemon juice and claret. The tradition of stirring it on the Sunday before advent was well established by the 1800s. Children would stir in silver Christmas charms including coins, a ring to foretell a marriage, a horseshoe for luck and a thimble for a life of blessedness. Twigs of variegated holly with berries were placed on each side to keep away the witches. At Coughton Court in Warwickshire, the puddings were made with stout then given out to the local old people.