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Christmas cracker facts for kids

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ChristmasCrackers 2
A pair of red and green Christmas crackers

Christmas crackers—also known as bon-bons—are part of Christmas celebrations.

A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper with a prize in the central chamber, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper. The cracker is pulled by two people, which causes the cracker to split unevenly, with one person holding the centre chamber of the cracker where the prizes are contained. The split is accompanied by a mild bang or snapping sound.

Tradition

Crackers are typically pulled at the Christmas dinner table or at parties. In one version of the cracker tradition, the person with the larger portion of cracker empties the contents from the tube and keeps them. In another, each person has their own cracker and keeps its contents regardless of whose end they were in. Typically these contents are a coloured paper hat, a small toy, a small plastic model or other trinket and a motto, a joke, and a riddle or piece of trivia on a small strip of paper. The paper hats, with the appearance of crowns, are usually worn when eating Christmas dinner.

History

The Oxford English Dictionary records the use of cracker bonbons and the pulling of crackers from the early 1840s. Tradition tells of how Tom Smith of London invented crackers in 1847. He created the crackers as a development of his bon-bon sweets, which he sold in a twist of paper (the origins of the traditional sweet-wrapper).

A memorial water fountain to Tom Smith and his family stands in Finsbury Square, London.

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