How did the mince pie get its name? Read our little history

When you are biting into a warm mince pie, did you ever give a thought to how it came to be called a mince pie?

Mince pies date back to the 13th century, and were originally made with meat. Thought to have been introduced from the Middle East, minced mutton or beef was mixed with spices and suet and sometimes fruits, in an exotic and headily spiced concoction typical of the food of this region.

By the 16th Century, mince pies were popular as a festive treat. Slowly but surely, the fruit became more popular than the meat. The meat was eventually replaced and nuts were introduced. The mince pies we know and love were born. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

Decorations are peculiar to each baker. The tradition of a star shaped lid is thought to depict the star the three wise men are said to have followed to find the baby Jesus. Other old fashioned presentations included making the pies in an oblong shape, with a baby shaped pastry topping as the lid, a symbol of the new-born baby in his manger. Chefs today create all sorts of topping for mince pies. We’ve seen meringue, frangipane and crumble toppings adorning our favourite treats. How do you decorate yours?

Tradition has it that eating a mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas ensures good luck for the New Year. So the next time anyone suggests you’re being greedy, scoffing all the pies, just tell them you’re following an ancient custom!