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These small, sweet delicacies originate from the Middle Ages in Britain. Traditionally associated with Christmas and the Christian celebration, mince pies were baked in small, rectangular tins, shaped like the crib that the baby Jesus slept in. The ingredients included three spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves - to represent the gifts bought by the three kings.

I've read that these pies originally contained minced meat and were intended as a way of preserving meat for the winter. Perhaps people substituted fruit as a cheaper alternative and that's how the mincemeat we know today came about.

It is thought to be lucky for you to eat a mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas, provided that each one is baked by a different person. Presumably this was to lengthen the odds of getting food poisoning!