WE can finally say it - it is just weeks until Christmas.

And while the big day is sat firmly on the glimmering horizon, it is once again acceptable to get excited and not only start talking about what you will do, and more importantly eat, but also how you are going to do it.

This Sunday officially marks the last before the season of Advent and has been informally named Stir-up Sunday.

A British tradition supposedly introduced by the Victorians, this particular Sunday got its name from the Book of Common Prayer.

It is said that after hearing "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.", women would be reminded that it was time to make a start on their Christmas pudding.

Families would gather for preparation and mix the ingredients for the pud before cooking and leaving to mature - filling the houses with the festive smells of fruits and spices to spark the beginning of Christmas.

But in reality, the Christmas pudding these days is just another item on the shopping list, so I thought what better way to honour the tradition than to partake in the more common custom of preparing the homemade Christmas cake instead.

You are in charge of your own Christmas cake destiny, so make sure you throw in everything you like and keep out anything you don't.

Simply mix dried fruit, mixed nuts, zest, flour, sugar, eggs and sherry or brandy before baking.

Keep it wrapped in greaseproof paper and foil and feed with brandy or sherry little and often until a week before the 25th.

For the essential ingredients Powells Greengrocers, Sedbergh, has mixed currants, raisins and sultanas at £2.35/500g, muscovado sugar at £1.39/500g, dried cranberries at £2.35/250g and organic sweetened cherries at £1.99/200g tub.

Ingleton's Country Harvest has a range of Christmas options including plain fruit cakes at £5.25 (4in), £9.95 (6in), £21.50 (8in) and £32.95 (10in).

The smallest cake is available iced with holly leaves on the top at £8.95 and to order for any other sizes.

Staff of Life, Kendal, have their own version of a brandy soaked Christmas cake at £12 topped off with glazed cherries, almonds and walnuts.

They also have festive florentines with Montezuma's dark chocolate at £2.20 each.

Bowland Bridge Stores also has Christmas cakes to order, homemade by Marion Clarke at Cartmel Fell and available small at £22, medium at £26 or large at £30.

For those with dietary requirements, Greenlands Farm Village, Carnforth, has a gluten free range by G-Free.

Choose between a rectangular Christmas cake at £15/1kg and a smaller round cake at £8.25/600g (both iced), a Christmas cake complete with fruit and nuts on top at £8.10/525g and an individual cake at £2.40.

Christmas cake is not only delicious by itself, but is divine alongside the perfect cheese.

Cartmel Cheeses has recommended pairing your fruit cake with Hawes Wensleydale at £2.28/100g or Crozier Blue at £3.91/100g.

Enjoying cake with cheese is ideal for Christmas day supper, so why not head to William Peat, Sedbergh, where they have homemade individual pork pies at £1.20 and Award-winning Ravenstonedale Red sausages with matured red Cheddar, garlic and mixed herbs at £7.69/kilo to complete the platter.