Crackers: A Family Tradition

For as long as I can remember, my family has celebrated the holidays with Crackers.  They adorn the table, and ultimately our heads, for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  While crackers have become all the rage these past few years, my family has been celebrating with them for decades.

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According to Wikipedia, crackers are part of Christmas celebrations primarily in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, NewZealand, and South Africa. 

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So how did my American family come to embrace the Cracker?  My Grandfather hailed from the Isle of Wight, and I am quite sure that he and my Aunt Christine brought the tradition to us.

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The Cracker was created in 1847 by Tom Smith ( http://www.tomsmithchristmascrackers.com/ ).  In its simplest form, a cracker is a small cardboard tube covered in a brightly colored twist of paper. When the cracker is pulled apart, a chemically treated card strip, similar to that used in a cap fun, is also pulled apart and a “pop” is made.

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Inside the cracker is a bright paper hat …

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… a small gift, and a joke.  

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As you can see, the joke is often corny and the gift is equally silly.

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I hardly remember a holiday meal where those around the table were not wearing hats.  Guests for the evening are not given exemption from this tradition, and while some in the family can not wait to remove the colorful crown, all are expected to participate.  These photo collages are comprised of photos as old as 1987 (I couldn’t find earlier ones on short notice) and as late as 2012.

Cracker Crowns

Cracker Crowns 2

Please share one of your family traditions in the comment section …

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… and know that I wish you a holiday season filled with the love of family and friends!

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55 thoughts on “Crackers: A Family Tradition

  1. Very cool post Laurie and I really like the photos of the family. It kind of reminds me of that old Imperial Margarine TV commercial where the family takes a bite of bread and crowns appear on their heads, LOL. You guys aren’t the only ones with corny jokes, HaHa. Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.

    • It really is! and today I leave to visit my son in Charleston, SC and yes … I do have a box of crackers in my bags 🙂 Merry Christmas, Ken!!

  2. What fun! Not celebrating Christmas I’ve been invited to share the holiday with many friends through they years. I’ve participated in many different traditions, but sadly never encountered these.

  3. Kit and I were introduced to this tradition when we lived in New Zealand two Christmases ago. I’ve still got my crown and treasure the memories of that holiday. Glad it’s alive and well up in this hemisphere, Laurie. Merry Christmas!

  4. We have always had crackers at Christmas for as long as I can remember, loved hearing about them. They are an integral part of the Christmas meal, we have to wear silly hats and laugh at the silly jokes, haha. My husband doesn’t like them, but I tell, we have to have them, they are important.

    Merry Christmas LB, have a great day with your and yours.

    • Yes! Your husband does indeed have to wear them even if he doesn’t like them 🙂 In my family, it is my sister Suzanne who is the first to find an excuse to get it off of her head! I love that you have this same tradition!! Merry Christmas, Leanne!!

  5. That photo collage could be from my New Zealand Christmas photo album!! Except the sun would be shining through the windows and the diners would be sweating buckets in the heat 🙂
    Our crackers also included those paper whistles that roll out when you blow into them – you know, the ones with feathers at the ends…..We wore our silly hats and shared our jokes and riddles until I sold our family home and became a gypsy – now we just have salads and cheese platters and forgo the crackers …….. Another tradition dies away……. so I hope you shall continue it merrily for many more years 🙂 Have a great Christmas Laurie 🙂

    • You know, Pauline, I’m in Charleston, SC with my son, and I’ve brought crackers to have with his roommate and roommate’s mother … the tradition continues!! Maybe a reprise for you to go along with cheese and crackers (which sounds perfect to me as long as I can have some wine with it!!) Merry Christmas!

  6. Those crackers are the nicest I’ve ever seen. One year, I hosted dinner and in the usual zeal for craftiness thought, “I shall make crackers, Martha would” LOL So I saved TP rolls for a couple of months and used tissue and ribbon and made hats (really, I’m laughing as I type this)….my poor crackers were so huge they took up half the table. My brothers laughed about the TP rolls and no-ones hat fit right..LOL. Learned my lesson on that one, not EVERYTHING is craft-able nor needs to be. I can’t really think of a tradition to share, we do something completely different every year. I guess I do decorate my mantel every year with these snow babies I collect and mountains of snow drifts. Jim fusses about the sparkly snow everywhere, but secretly I pretty sure he’d miss it if I didn’t do it, LOL.

    Have the Best Christmas Yet Laurie! See you on the flip side. Love and Hugs K

    • Oh my gosh, I was almost able to visualize those TP roll crackers!! Even if the homemade crackers didn’t make the cut, that story will LIVE ON!! I absolutely love it!
      And thank you for sharing you Christmas tradition … and Jim puts up with it because he loves you and you make him happy!
      If you get a second, check out this link and laugh over my Christmas wish!
      Merry, merry Christmas, Kelly!! Sending love from afar!

      • Good Morning my dear friend from afar! Merry Christmas!! I tried to link to this but it doesn’t display 😦 Maybe I have to be on your friend list? Hope you had a wonderful day! I’ll take that love and send some back with warm hugs xK

      • HA, glad you laughed too. It was pretty hysterical when people started to put their hats on and some were way too big, others to small. I now go out and buy them at 50 or 60 % off after Christmas when I see them. dah 😀

  7. Those are beautiful crackers…and a great tradition. I didn’t grow up with crackers, but started the tradition with my boys several years ago. This is the first year we missed…I simply got caught up in everything else and forgot. They were always a hit with my youngest son. Next year…

  8. Laurie, those are so beautiful! The elegant outside totally belies the silly on the inside. I have no cracker tradition, but I loved hearing about yours. That photo collage is too awesome.

    My own family Christmas traditions would include the fact that stockings are a bigger deal than the presents. My parents would plan all year for the stockings (working every step of the way with Santa, of course). The toes always hold a tangerine. There should be something inside that is startling or strange to grab when reaching in. They always had maple sugar candies and gold foil covered chocolate coins. Presentation was big too, so something must be bursting from the top, usually a stuffed animal for the kids. It has been fun spreading my family stocking tradition to those I share Christmas morning with.

    • Crystal, thank you for sharing this tradition! Stockings are the best and I had to smile when you mentioned the tangerine … my folks used to do this, too. It sounds like you have taken the stocking to a new level though and I love that! I need to put more effort into creativity next year.

  9. I love those first two shots of your family, Laurie. What joy. We too celebrate with Christmas crackers, still a favorite with the boys. I brought three of them with me in the car on the last day of school for Mac and his friends. Such fun.

    I think they would be a great party ice-breaker too.

    Merry Christmas. I”m glad you’re surrounded by family.

    • I absolutely love that you all celebrate with Crackers, too!
      I’m very much looking forward to our Skype session. Next Monday the 28th, right? Anxious to hear how you are getting around, and if you got the stitches removed AND how much you enjoyed being with all 3 of your men this holiday 🙂

  10. Pingback: Holiday in Atlanta | Life on the Bike and other Fab Things

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