In 1991 The Mail featured some Cumbrian alternatives to traditional festive fare.

An intriguing part of Cumberland and Westmorland traditional Christmas fare was the 'Sweetie Pie,' served - some said on Christmas Eve, some said on Boxing Day and others that it was available as a 'snack' dish throughout the season.

In many recipes, stated The Mail, the pie contained minced meat. Lamb, to be precise, for thrifty farmers tended to use the fare which was easily available to them.

The recipe featured used minced lamb and mixed dried fruit. The article stated that in traditional recipes any kind of available mixed dried fruit was used - including chopped dried apple, prunes and dried damsons - but the spicing in all of them was fairly similar.

Ingredients: ½lb minced mutton, 1lb dried mixed fruit (chopped), 40z sugar, juice of a lemon, a pinch each of cinnamon, mace and nutmeg and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Method: Mix ingredients, put in a pie dish and cover with a pastry topping (older recipes say shortcrust, other say puff pastry) and in one or two of them the mixed fruit content is increased and the fruit soaked in rum or brandy before being added to the minced meat.

Ancient custom, stated The Mail, dictated that roast goose should be served up to Cumbrians on Christmas Day and since the 17th Century it had been stuffed with sage and onion and served with apple sauce.

In earlier times, the goose was 'hung before the fire' to cook slowly, with the grease caught in a tray underneath it. It was basted and turned frequently.

A modern cook, however, needed to put the goose in a roasting tin on a trivet, or raised wire mesh platform, and to prick the bird all over to allow the considerable amount of fat to escape.

Meanwhile The Mail's photographers have been there to take pictures at numerous Christmas plays and events over the years.