When I’m not blogging, I work in a supermarket as a bagger and a cashier. My store carries these Christmas crackers during the holidays, which up until last year, I thought were edible crackers like Ritz or Jacob’s Cream Crackers. They sold for about $10-$12 which made me wonder to myself, “Why so expensive? They must be really good crackers if they’re being sold for about twelve bucks.” My question was answered when I saw someone popping one open on the telly (I must warn you, my vocabulary is somewhat British at times. My family thinks I’m a bit weird but I do not care).
Now just what exactly is a Christmas Cracker? A Christmas Cracker is a type of favor, kind of like New Year’s when you have those little plastic poppers that burst out confetti and little ribbons and they make a loud POP! These, however, are much different. They’re usually set at the dinner table at Christmas dinner in England next to the dinner plates and are usually opened by two people, much like a wishbone, and whoever has the larger half gets to keep the crown inside. Some people open them as one. Sometimes people give the little items inside away to friends or family members. Almost everyone has a different tradition during the holidays.
Here’s a little background on these: a sweet maker named Tom Smith had seen some French “bon bon” sweets while travelling abroad. Once he came home to England, he tried to make his own “bon bon” with a little message or joke inside but unfortunately, these didn’t sell very well. People of Britain were not as familiar with such a foreign item. One night, while sitting by the fire, a crack came from one of the logs, which gave Tom an idea. How interesting would be if his sweets and toys made a noise, like a POP, once they were split open? Since then, the Christmas crackers pop when split open. Since then, the crackers became a hit.
When Tom passed away, his three sons inherited his business, which was beginning to thrive. It was one of his sons who later added the well-known paper crowns to the Christmas crackers in the 1900s. Over the years, many kinds have been created for Christmas crackers. Some have characters on them, others are fancy with shiny paper, and some are just basic with holiday print. Sometimes Christmas crackers are used for other occasions than Christmas. They have been used for coronations and other events. It is said that even the British Royal Family have their own custom made Christmas crackers!
Once I got these Christmas Crackers in my hands, I used my niece and nephew as my guinea pigs . The kids got a real kick out of these! Along with the standard paper crowns and silly jokes, some unusual little goodies came out of these crackers. My niece even got a hair barrette out of one of the crackers! It made me happy to see them laugh at the funny jokes, wonder about the unknown magic tricks (my 9 year old nephew especially), and even exchange some of the toys between each other.
Seeing the reactions of my niece and nephew and even their other aunt (my sister) made me definitely want to add Christmas crackers to my holiday traditions list. I wouldn’t mind buying them every year and bringing them to whoever is doing Christmas in my family so that everyone has a little surprise and cheer. It saddens me that these are not as popular in the US but glad that they’re sold here for the ones who miss the holidays back in Blighty.