I enjoy almost every aspect of Christmas dinner. I like the roast potatoes. I like the sage and onion stuffing. I even like the Brussels sprouts. However, the one thing that I don’t like, are the Christmas crackers.
The modern Christmas cracker dates back to the 1840s, when Thomas Smith of London, in an attempt to go one better than the twist-wrapped bon-bon sweets that he had seen on sale in France added, first a motto inside the sweets’ wrapper, and then a banger, which made a noise when the sweet was opened. The paper crown was a later addition as, too, was the novelty gift replacing the sweet.
For me, Christmas crackers simply take up unnecessary space on an already overcrowded table top. I don’t enjoy the ceremony of opening them; I don’t enjoy reading the motto; I don’t enjoy wearing the paper crown; and I have never wanted the novelty gift. The only, and very modest, redeeming aspect of the cracker is the ‘crack’. And even that is more often than not a damp squib.
Recent years have seen the rise of the luxury cracker. These include foil, rather than paper, hats. Superior jokes. More useful gifts. An improvement? No. Luxury crackers just mean paying more for stuff I still don’t want. The difference between normal crackers and luxury crackers is rather like analysing whether you prefer a bite from an Aedes or an Anopheles mosquito.
They all just make me want to scratch.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree ends the year just as irritated as he began it.