I started setting the table yesterday with the help of my sister. I love all the traditions of the Christmas dinner…turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie. And decorating the table is part of the fun.
The Christmas Cracker is a tradition that I was introduced to by My Beloved Brit, and I must say when I first heard of them it was difficult to find the pretty little fabrications that give a pop and are filled with funny jokes, small toys and charms and a colored paper hat or crown. I do think they are lovely sitting on the Christmas dinner table, but the paper hats may be a bit much.
The cracker is supposed to be pulled before Christmas dinner by two people, similar to a wishbone and one tradition has it that the person who gets the larger piece gets to keep the contents. We like to give each their own cracker and everyone at the table takes turns reading their joke or fortune.
Crackers were invented by Thomas J. Smith of London in 1847, a purveyor of bon-bon sweets that he sold wrapped in a twist of paper. Eventually, Smith started to come up with new ideas to increase sales. Initially he started including mottos in with the sweets, but soon he was inspired to put the “crackle” idea in to the treat when he heard the sound from the fire. The size had to be increased to include the snapper mechanism, and eventually the sweet was dropped and the little surprises were added when his son took over the development of the product. You can actually order Tom Smith’s Christmas Crackers in the US now.
The idea of the paper crown may have come from Twelfth Night celebrations, where a king or queen was appointed to oversee the celebration.
I read recently that even the royal family has crackers at their Christmas celebration and although I don’t know this to be absolutely true, the article said the only one at the table who didn’t wear the paper crown was the Queen herself.
Merry Christmas to all. Let the feasting begin!