I love making mince pies at Christmas time – they are just so easy to prepare and who can beat that delicious smell as they come out of the oven. Mince pies are an essential part of Christmas and of course we all know, that they are a favourite food of Santa Claus!
Mince pies became a regular part of Christmas celebrations as early as the 16th century, when the crusaders returned from the Holy Land with spices, and it was deemed appropriate to celebrate Christ’s birthday with a pie containing spices from his native land. It was important to add three spices (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) for the three gifts given to the Christ child by the Magi. Mince pies should traditionally have a star on top, to represent the Christmas Star which led the shepherds and Magi to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.
Many superstitions have grown up around this Christmas tradition. It is thought lucky to eat one mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas (ending with Epiphany, the 6th of January). The mincemeat mixture should only be stirred in a clockwise direction. To stir it anticlockwise is to bring bad luck for the coming year. Finally, a wish should be made whilst eating your first mince pie of the festive season – I already know what I will be wishing for this year!