The Original Christmas Cracker | Baroness Bolsover
Updated: Dec 18, 2021
A Christmas Cracker That Didn’t Crack?
Surely not? Yes, in fact, the very first 'Christmas Crackers', seen in the early part of the 19th-Century, were nothing more than a few sweets wrapped in crepe paper and twisted at the edges, much in the same way we wrap sweets today.
Around 6” long, they were pulled at the edges by excited children or, in the very early days, young lovers.
That was one of their charms, for inside these silent little crackers was often hidden a Love Poem to a sweetheart, in which case you had to be very careful who you pulled your cracker with! These original ‘crackers’, created by the French, were appropriately called ‘Kisses’.
It wasn’t until the mid-19th Century, when English Sweet Maker Tom Smith picked up on the idea and added the familiar ‘crack’ to the little parcel, that the Christmas Cracker as we know it was truly born.
As the Christmas Cracker increased in popularity, so too did the anticipation of its contents, and other little treats were added, such as a trinket, a mask and a paper hat. The Lovers Poems were replaced by Jokes of the times;
Q: Why is a Christmas pudding like the Atlantic Ocean?
A: Because it is full of currants.
The novelty of the Christmas Cracker has never dwindled, despite the poor jokes which have become as much a tradition as the Cracker itself!
The Victorians practically invented Christmas as we know it...
One of the most significant Christmas traditions popularised by the Victorians is the Christmas Tree. It was Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, who brought over a Pine Tree from Germany in the early 1840’s, and, like the Germans, adorned it with bright colourful decorations much to the delight of his family.
The Royal couple were illustrated in a newspaper standing around the Christmas Tree with their children, and it quickly became a fashion that spread throughout Britain.
Although Albert is credited with introducing the Christmas Tree to England, the decorating of a Pine Tree has its origins in Pagan Culture in which the evergreen tree stands as a sign of renewal and hope that spring will one day return to the land. A tradition for which many of us are most grateful during the short dark days of Winter.
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