Christmas in the Braddy household officially begins with the arrival of a baby bath and a big wooden spoon. Let me explain.

For as long as I can remember my mother has produced vast quantities of Christmas puddings in the largest receptacle she can find – the family baby bath, which is housed for the rest of the year in her loft.

I was probably the last person to use the bath for the purpose it was intended. In the intervening years it has housed millions of currants, thousands of strips of candied peel and dozens of pints of stout.

In the age-old tradition of “Stir-up Sunday”, on one day every November the whole family take a turn at mixing the pudding ingredients in the bath – a tricky task for young hands given the quantity and consistency of the mixture.

As the pudding is stirred, each holder of the wooden spoon must make a wish. Now I have young children of my own they are carrying on the tradition and do so with great delight, left.

As I write this, “Stir-up Sunday” (actually held on a Saturday this year) has just taken place – and it remains a highlight of our calendar.

That’s Christmas for me – keeping family traditions alive – and we have crammed the pages of this snow-sprinkled Yuletide edition with festive traditions galore. In the pages that follow you’ll find makers of hand-crafted decorations, poinsettia growers, church bell ringers and pantomime performers.

If you’re not feeling Christmassy yet, you soon will be. And don’t worry if you’re more Scrooge than Santa, there’s plenty in the mix for you too.

Happy Yorkshire Christmas.

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This month’s great features

It did happen to a vet
Jim Wight celebrates the life of his father James Herriot on the centenary of his birth

An irresistible story
BAFTA-winning writer Sally Wainwright talks to Phil Penfold about her new film about the Brontës

In the red
A Mexican Christmas tradition is blooming in Yorkshire, Helen Johnson discovers,


Woman of mystery
Nick Channer visits Harrogate and investigates the real-life mystery of Agatha Christie’s eleven-day disappearance in 1926

Reviving old crafts for Christmas
Helen Johnson finds that seasonal skills are alive and well in Wensleydale

England’s Niagara Falls
Adrian Braddy discovers how Malham nearly got its own giant waterfall

Let the bells ring out
Tony Greenbank joins the campanologists of Ribblesdale

Wiske galore
Helen Johnson meets the cast of Appleton Wiske’s annual pantomime

Christmas Eve at Stagwood
Peggy Hirst-Barrow recalls a joyful childhood on a West Riding farm in the 1920s

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