Prepping for the Holidays — Christmas Specialties

It’s not too early to start lining up your treats for the holidays. One that has a fairly long tradition is the Christmas Cracker. Another is the Advent Calendar. They both have an interesting history, something to make their enjoyment all the more meaningful when shared with your guests!

Christmas Crackers - Traditional Family Crackers - 12 pack (Photo source: The English Tea Store)
Christmas Crackers – Traditional Family Crackers – 12 pack (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Christmas Crackers

The name can be a bit confusing, since there are no “crackers” (soda, Ritz, or other) involved. The cracker part is in the sense used in “firecracker.” A Christmas Cracker is opened similarly to how a wishbone is divided — a person pulls on one side and another person pulls on the other side of the cracker, which opens with a loud “pop!” and the person with the largest piece keeps the gifts inside. These are a favorite tradition in England and contain a paper crown, a small gift, a motto or joke, and of course, the “pop.” More recently, each setting at the table is given its own Christmas Cracker to pull apart. They are traditionally “cracked” after Christmas dinner. The exterior wrappers can be in typical Christmas colors or silver.

Tom Smith, a confectioner, created the original cracker in the mid 1800s. He began working in a bakery/confectioners shop in London in early 1830. His main interest was in creating ornamentations for wedding cakes. He traveled to Paris in 1840 and saw a confection called “bon bons” (sugared almonds in tissue paper twists). From this he developed a more complex container that would open with a pop — a design inspired by the crackling of the logs on the fire. These remain the top brand to this date.

Cadbury Wishes Advent Calendar (Photo source:  stock image)
Cadbury Wishes Advent Calendar (Photo source: stock image)

Advent Calendar

An advent calendar is used to count the days until Christmas. Most start on December 1st and go through the 24th. They come is different forms. Some are paper cards with little windows for each day, usually 24. Each day, one of the windows is opened to reveal an image, a poem, or a portion of a story about Christmas. More elaborate versions, like the Cadbury Wishes Advent Calendar, have a little treat concealed in each window.

Advent calendars have been around since the early 19th century and were simple chalk lines drawn on the door each day. The first paper calendar, handmade, dates from 1851, with the first printed version being produced in 1902-03. Many are secular in nature and make a fun activity for the children who wait anxiously for that big day.

Add both of these fun specialties to your holiday preparations — they’ll bring a touch of tradition and fun to the festivities!

More Holiday Tea and Treat Ideas:

See also:
Tea Moments – Being Thankful
Tea Moments — Remembering a Thanksgiving Past
Tea Moments — The Relatives
Holiday Tea Time — Winter Solstice
Tea Memory — Christmas Tour in London
Twas the Night Before Tea-mas
Tea at the Kristkindlmarkt
Tea Moments — The Carolers
Tea Moments — The Christmas Tree
Tea with Mrs. Claus
Tea Moments — Enjoying the Christmas Sparkle
A Cup of Tea in a Pear Tree

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

One thought on “Prepping for the Holidays — Christmas Specialties

  1. Pingback: Tea Sales Turn Winter Blahs into Teatime Bounty « Tea Blog

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