The origins of the mince tart begin with the medieval pastry, chewette which was either fried or baked. The "chewette" actually contained liver or chopped meat mixed with boiled eggs and ginger. Dried fruit and sweet ingredients would be added to the chewette's filling for variety. By the 16th century 'mince' or shred pie was considered a Christmas specialty, but in the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell made the eating of mince tarts on Christmas Day illegal. (This law was voted fourth "most ridiculous British law" in a 2007 poll.) In the mid-17th century the liver and chopped meat was replaced by suet, and meat products were no longer generally used in the 'mince' by the 19th century in both North America and Great Britain. Though traditional suet pies are still made, they are no longer the dominant form.
Folklore states that mince tarts are a favourite food of Father Christmas, and that one or two should be left on a plate at the foot of the chimney (along with a small glass of brandy, sherry or milk, and a carrot for the reindeer) as a thank-you for stockings well-filled.
British tradition demands that the mince filling mixture should only be stirred in a clockwise direction. To stir it anticlockwise is to bring bad luck for the coming year.
Tradition also says that one should make a wish whilst eating one's first mince tart of the festive season and that mince tarts should always be eaten in silence. There are variations on this, including eating the first mince tart in a different location during the season in silence, while other family members try to make this a game by tricking the eater into speaking during its consumption.
Eating at least one mince tart on each of the twelve days of Christmas is thought by some people to bring luck for the coming year.
Mince tarts often have a star on top, to represent the Christmas Star which Christians believe led the Magi to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.
Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses customers have been leaving their Christmas Mince Tarts out for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve for over 111 years. We can't guarantee that our mince is stirred in a clockwise direction but we can guarantee the use of only the very finest ingredients in our mince tarts! Join Santa and enjoy a Ferguson Plarre Christmas Mince Tart this Christmas.