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The Christian Symbolism of Flaming Plum Pudding

by Ian on December 22, 2011

Flaming Plum Pudding

Flaming Plum Pudding (This is a stock photo. The real one was infinitely better)

Last weekend our family went to the Rock Ledge Ranch for their "Holiday Evening". The Rock Ledge Ranch is a living history museum nestled at the base of the Garden of the Gods. The original home as well as the Orchard house, barn and other out buildings are still in use.

This year we went with my parents to the Christmas evening for the first time. They have caroling, barn dancing, blacksmiths making metal candy canes and plum pudding lighting!

I saw this last item in the program and decided we had to go. At the Orchard House the pudding was brought out to the dining room on a platter for the 50 people in violation of fire code to see. The hostess poured brandy over the top and around the pudding on the platter. And then she poured some more. Did I mention that the pudding is cured in liquor as part of the preparation? It is possible that the plum pudding was actually floating above the platter on the alcohol fumes.

They turned out the lights and the hostess lit the pudding on fire. Considering how much liquor was involved it is surprising that the house didn't explode in a brandy fire ball. Because there was so much liquor on the platter they blew out the flames instead of letting them go out themselves.

After this exciting bit of pyrotechnics she explained that the lighting of the plum pudding is actually full of Christian symbolism. The plum pudding, being roundish and full of candied fruits, represents the earth. The liquor, wouldn't you know it, represents the lake of sin that soaks the world and needs to be stamped out by the Temperance League (I made that up). (But not the rest). The fire (the fun part) represents the fires of hell threatening to consume us all while we bathe in the brandy lake around the world. No, wait. I might have that wrong. The holly sprig on the top represents the green of life and the red holly berry represents the blood of Christ. The flames, when not fed by an entire bottle of brandy, typically burn out quickly, representing Christ's victory over Satan and the return of safe brandy drinking (I think she said that but I was not actually in the room so parts of this account are based on the input of the one-year-old I was carrying around).

The fact that we didn't get to eat any of the plum pudding after the flames were extinguished represents everything that is wrong with the world.

In spite of not being able to get soused on plum pudding, we all had a great evening and did finish the night with some hot apple cider in the old carriage house. If you ever are in Colorado Springs in December, a visit to the Rock Ledge Ranch is worth the time. Even without the pudding.

The Rutherford Family at Rock Ledge Ranch

The Rutherford Family at Rock Ledge Ranch (No, it isn't cold, this is just how people in Colorado dress)

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