A is for Crackers

Cracker (from Pixabay)
@owlwings (38668)
Cambridge, England
December 24, 2015 7:26am CST
No, I’m not talking about the things you have with cheese nor (if you are male) a stunning young lady. I’m talking about an essential accessory to the Christmas dinner table (in England, at least, and, I believe, in certain other countries which used to be part of the Empire). Sometime in the 1890s a person called Tom Smith seems to have invented something so revolutionary and yet so simple that it can be classed alongside of the wheel and sliced bread! It has been an integral part of Christmas in MY neck of the woods since long before *I* can remember (and that is the best part of a century). It is really incredibly simple. It is just a tube of thin cardboard covered with colourful and shiny paper which is twisted or pinched at each end so it looks like a large bon-bon or toffee wrapped in pretty paper. It makes a good decoration for the Christmas tree or, indeed, for the Christmas dinner table. The most important thing about it, however, is the 'snap' (which is why it is called a 'cracker'). This is a long paper strip which runs from one end of the cracker to the other and which has a small spot of gunpowder in the middle. When two people grasp each end of the cracker, they should be careful to pinch hard at the necks at each end, so that they grasp their end of the snap and make it go bang! Once the cracker has been pulled, one person should be left with the short end (and NOTHING) while the other should find that some 'favours' fall out of the tube. These will certainly include a paper hat or crown (which MUST be worn! I don't know what terrible consequences ensue if you don't!), a 'favour' of some kind - usually a very cheap and dreadful plastic toy but sometimes something a little more useful. This should be displayed with OOOHs and AHHs to the assembled company and appropriate (possibly ribald) comments made on the suitability or otherwise to the recipient. Finally one should search for and find a slip of paper with a 'motto', which may be a joke of some kind or a quiz question or just an aphorism or may be one or more of these. The object is to get as much fun as one can by sharing these. It is possible that the winner (if there is one) is the person who is the last one left sitting and grinning whilst everyone else has disappeared under the table in protest at the execrable humour. Rules of the Game: 1) Everyone must pull their cracker with the person next to them at the dinner table. It is RECOMMENDED that you cross arms to do so and that the whole dinner table pulls their crackers together in a circle but this rule may be varied, depending on the number of people present. 2) Everyone, once the owner of the cracker's contents has been established (mainly by who holds the major part of the pulled cracker), shall unfold and wear their paper hat. 3) Everyone shall display their 'favour' to the assembled company and be complimented or ridiculed as appropriate. If the favour is a simple magic trick or similar, the recipient shall be allowed adequate time to read the instructions and perform the trick. 4) Everyone shall read out their motto, joke or humorous question to the assembled company. If there are any 'winners', then the person who carries off the reading to best effect will be given the respectful honour of being the "Best Able to Tell a Bad Joke Successfully" (or whatever honour the company shall decide appropriate)
19 people like this
13 responses
@rebelann (37771)
• El Paso, Texas
24 Dec 15
KOOOOOL, I've always wondered what those were. Merry Christmas
4 people like this
24 Dec 15
You forgot the tradition whereby if you covet someone else's 'favour', and they yours, you come to a mutual agreement to swap. I've sent them to America in the past, before realising that it was probably illegal to do so. Oops!
3 people like this
@fishtiger58 (30383)
• Momence, Illinois
24 Dec 15
That sounds like a ton of fun. Have never heard of this.
3 people like this
@PainsOnSlate (19902)
• Canada
24 Dec 15
That is so interesting. I had never seen one until we came to Canada. I've never used one or had them at my table because I have no idea what they were all about. Thank you for that lesson. I might have to go out and see if I can find some fore tomorrow.
3 people like this
• United States
24 Dec 15
I used to get these at Christmas when I was a kid - not as pretty as the one in the photo!
2 people like this
@owlwings (38668)
• Cambridge, England
24 Dec 15
I think you are unusual. Most Americans have never heard of them, it seems.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Dec 15
@owlwings Well, I am unusual!!!!!
2 people like this
@yugocean (7920)
• India
25 Dec 15
India was part of British empire but this game is not known here. I cannot claim for Entire India, but Not in North India for sure.
2 people like this
@richnonai (501)
• Pattaya, Thailand
25 Dec 15
WOW, I never heard of that before. Sound like so much fun!
2 people like this
@LoriAMoore (4826)
• United States
25 Dec 15
I had forgotten all about these! We did this one year at a faculty luncheon.
2 people like this
@softbabe44 (5910)
• Vancouver, Washington
25 Dec 15
Well, it sounds interesting.
2 people like this
@Hatley (164777)
• Garden Grove, California
24 Dec 15
hi I have heard of them but now I know more as Im a yankee or American if you prefer. It sounds like fun to me
2 people like this
• United States
27 Dec 15
This sounds dangerous and noisy. Glad this tradition did not make it over the pond.
1 person likes this
@pgntwo (21315)
• Derry, Northern Ireland
27 Dec 15
They are less noisy, but perhaps just as messy, as party poppers, (pictured), which I assume are available in the US?
1 person likes this
@Jessicalynnt (47798)
• Centralia, Missouri
31 Dec 15
I have always loved this tradition when I read about it, never made it to america I don't think.
1 person likes this
@poehere (17756)
• French Polynesia
25 Dec 15
I've never heard of these or seen them before. How interesting and I totally enjoyed reading this post. Now I must try and find some of these. But I fear they won't make their way clear across the ocean and land here on our islands.