For many families around the globe the most magical day of the year is Christmas Day. There is nothing quite as exciting as waking up on Christmas morning, groggily walking down the stairs and finding half-eaten cookies and presents under the tree. In Britain, the tradition of Saint Nicolas’ visit is complimented by the long standing presence of Christmas Crackers.
Invented in 1847 in London by businessman Thomas Smith, Christmas Crackers are an integral part of the holiday tradition. Usually present at holiday parties or Christmas dinner, the cracker is a large cardboard tube wrapped in colorful paper that’s twisted at both ends. Their bright colors, usually of red, green or gold, are attractive and appealing.
Though there are several ways to open a cracker, a popular method is to have two individuals grab hold of either end. As the individuals pull, the tube and the paper tear and a loud pop, much like that of a cap gun, occurs. This is the result of a friction discharge caused by a chemically charged strip placed under the paper. The person with the larger portion of the cracker gets to keep the treasures inside. These typically consist of a joke or motto (like those found in a fortune cookie), a trinket or gift (the more you pay for the cracker the better quality the gift will be) and a colored paper party hat. These creative treats are great for family members of all ages and are often able to be purchased in packages of 6 to 24, sometimes more!
Over the years families have developed their own traditions. One of my family’s favorites is the “Christmas Cracker Treasure Hunt”. My husband and I create age appropriate clues for our kids. They run around the house seeking the next clue and eventually find the “treasure chest”. Within the treasure chest is a Christmas Cracker for each member of our family.
We have also been known to give crackers to neighbors, extended family members and co-workers just to help spread some holiday cheer. If you haven’t already, try making Christmas Crackers part of your family’s holiday tradition! Opening them makes a BANG every year!
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