BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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174                             THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
On the subject of the identity of the Tnodern plum-pudding with the ancient hackin, we are furnished with the following curi­ous remarks, by Mr. Crofton Croker—which we think well worth submitting, for the consideration of the curious in such matters.
" ' The hackin,' says that amusing old tract, entitled, ' Round about our Coal Fire,' ' must be boiled by day-break, or, else, two young men must take the maiden [i. e. the cook] by the arms, and run her round the market-place, till she is ashamed of her laziness.' Brand, whose explanation Hone, in his Every-day Book, has adopted, renders hackin by ' the great sausage ;' and Nares tells us, that the word means ' a large sort of sausage, being a part of the cheer provided for Christmas festivities,'—de­riving the word from hack, to cut or chop. Agreeing in this de­rivation, we do not admit Nares's explanation. Hackin, literally taken, is mince-meat of any kind ; but Christmas mince-meat, everybody knows, means a composition of meat and suet (hack­ed small), seasoned with fruit and spices. And from the passage above quoted, that ' the hackin must be boiled [i. e. boiling] by day-break,' it is obvious, the worthy archdeacon, who, as well as Brand and Hone, have explained it as a great sausage, did not see that hackin is neither more nor less than the old name for the national English dish of plum-pudding.
" We have heard first rate authorities, upon this subject, assert —the late Dr. Kitchener and Mr. Douce were amongst the num­ber,—that plum-pudding—the renowned English plum-pudding —was a dish, comparatively speaking, of modern invention : and that plum-porridge was its ancient representative. But this, for the honor of England, we never would allow,—and always fought a hard battle upon the point. Brand, indeed, devotes a section of his observations on popular antiquities to ' Yuledoughs, mince-pies, Christmas-pies, and plum-porridge,' omitting plum-pudding, —which new Christmas dish, or rather, new name for an old Christmas dish, appears to have been introduced with the reign of the ' merry monarch,' Charles II. A revolution always creates a change in manners, fashions, tastes, and names ;—and our theory is that, among other changes, the hackin of our ancestors was then baptized plum pudding. In Poor Robin's Almanac for 1676, it is observed of Christmas,—' good cheer doth so abound
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