British Holiday Traditions, Part III

Eat, Drink & Be Merry

Be Merry . . .
Christmas Crackers have been a British tradition since the 19th century. They were introduced by confectioner Tom Smith who was inspired by French sugar almonds wrapped in paper. While his adaptation of sweets accompanied by a riddle were initially well-received, it wasn't until he came up with a way to make the cracker 'pop' did it gain popularity.

Beyond Christmas, crackers were created to celebrate major events, including The Coronation and The Paris Exhibition. Smith also specialized in exclusive crackers in collaboration with Wedgwood and ones for members of the Royal Family — a tradition that continues.

Today, while Christmas Crackers are still a favorite UK party favor, they can also be found

throughout the world during the holidays as well as other festive events. Typically, crackers are colorfully wrapped cardboard tubes placed at the dinner table.

The crackers 'pop' when it is pulled on either end by two people. For groups of three or more, it is tradition for each person to cross their arms to pull all the crackers at once. Each cracker contains a ‘crown’, gift or toy along with a joke. Similar to advent calendars, today’s crackers can be filled with a wide array of items, including alcohol, chocolate, jewellry, cosmetics and musical instruments.

They can be purchased from high-end retailers like Harrods or Selfridges to your local grocers — a perfect way to start the holiday season or the New Year with a 'bang'!

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