THE CHRISTMAS CRACKER – WHAT, WHERE AND WHY?
by Sarah Scaddan
If you are from Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or South Africa or have celebrated Christmas with any of the above, you will know what this is all about. We’re talking about the brightly coloured paper items decorating the Christmas table that are destroyed at the start of the meal, revealing a small bang, a paper hat, a useless gift and a dodgy joke. Yet still we love them.
Christmas crackers were first made in the UK in the mid 1800’s by a London sweet maker called Tom Smith. He had seen sweets wrapped in paper on sale in France and tried to introduce them in the UK with a motto hidden inside, with little success. Legend has it that one night he was sat in front of his log fire observing its cracks and sparks, and had the idea to introduce an item that cracked as you opened it. His sons then took over the business and introduced a crown and a Christmas gift into the cracker.
The modern day cracker is a cardboard paper tube wrapped in brightly coloured paper and twisted at both ends. There is a banger inside the cracker that reacts with friction so that when the cracker is pulled apart it makes a bang. Two people can tug at each end or if there is a group around the table, everyone can cross their arms to pull the crackers at once. The person who gets the bigger half of the split cracker, gets to keep its bounty.
Crackers are notorious for their bad jokes, some of which must have been round since the 1800’s too. A few beauties:-
What says Oh Oh Oh?
Santa walking backwards
What do Santa’s little helpers learn at school?
What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?
Quelle surprise – they are pretty expensive in Geneva. I had a look around to see if I could find a bargain and discover exactly what’s on offer.
FUN AND A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT
Manor – instore and online at www.manor.ch
Six different designs of crackers including some fun ones with photo props in. Starting at 19.90chf for 6 crackers.
SMALL AND LOW COST
Maisons du Monde – instore and online www.maisonsdumonde.com/FR
Cute mini crackers costing 12€90 for 6 crackers.
ENORMOUS RANGE AND DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR
Britshop.ch – online https://www.britshop.ch
Vast range of crackers available, the best selection I found. Starting at 21.90chf for 6.
SINGLE CRACKER OPTION
My expat shop – online or at their depot at 16 Chemin du Foron, 1226 Thônex
Wide range of different sizes and designs, starting at 4chf for a single cracker. You could in fact order different styles for different guests, if you were so inclined. Minimum order is 45chf.
Schilliger Garden Centres. www.schilliger.com Instore in Gland, Plans le Ouates and Matran. Lovely display of Christmas goodies in the circus themed Christmas grottos. The crackers are handmade and absolutely delightful, but starting at 39.90chf for a box of 6, they definitely should be.
If you come across any other Christmas crackers in Geneva, please do email email@example.com so we can add them to our list.