Mince pie (also mincemeat pie in New England, and fruit mince pie in Australia and New Zealand) is a sweet pie of English origin, filled with a mixture of dried fruits and spices called “mincemeat“, that is traditionally served during the Christmas season in much of the English-speaking world. Its ingredients are traceable to the 13th century, when returning European crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices; these contained the Christian symbolism of representing the gifts delivered to Jesus by the Biblical Magi. Mince pies, at Christmas time, were traditionally shaped in an oblong shape, to resemble a manger and were often topped with a depiction of the Christ Child.
The early mince pie was known by several names, including “mutton pie”, “shrid pie” and “Christmas pie”. Typically its ingredients were a mixture of minced meat, suet, a range of fruits, and spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Served around Christmas, the savoury Christmas pie (as it became known) was associated with supposed Catholic “idolatry” and during the English Civil War was frowned on by the Puritan authorities. Nevertheless, the tradition of eating Christmas pie in December continued through to the Victorian era, although by then its recipe had become sweeter and its size markedly reduced from the large oblong shape once observed. Today the mince pie, usually made without meat (but often including suet or other animal fats), remains a popular seasonal treat enjoyed by many across the United Kingdom and Ireland.