Christmas crackers are something that hasn’t found its way around the world as of yet, but is a fundamental part of Christmas Day and meals over the holidays for many in Europe. They come in paper tubes that are brightly colored and the package makes a popping noise when the cracker breaks. Inside the cracker is a gift, which is usually a joke, much like you’d see in a fortune cookie. A paper crown is usually included and then gifts from playing cards to photo frames have been discovered.
The invention is given credited to Thomas Smith, who made the first Christmas crackers in 1846. He was inspired by a trip to Paris where he discovered bon-bons that were wrapped in tissue paper. He tried to sell that at home in England, but was only successful around the holidays. That led him to develop the noisemakers and gifts that were included inside.
Since this is the only primary invention of Smith’s, let’s take a look at some other British Christmas inventions.
1. Modern Christmas Trees
Although the Christmas tree itself has a German origin, it is the British that gave us the fully adorned tree of glory that stands in the home. It initially became a way to show off one’s status in society because more wealth meant more adornments that had greater value. In the end, however, the Christmas tree became a personal expression of family more than a wealthy status symbol as the tradition circled the globe.
2. Christmas Cards
Nothing says Christmas like a stack of cards coming in the mail every year. For some, it’s the only communication that have with an acquaintance. Covered in the ideas of Charles Dickens, picturesque scenes of snow and yuletide fun often accompany Santa Claus, reindeer, and other modern adornments that have been developed over the years. The goal was to give the card with a gift or a Christmas cracker, but today you can just send an e-card and call it good.
3. The Christmas Feast
Although feasts date back to the Middle Ages for this holiday, the traditional Christmas feast has its origins in England as well. During the Victorian Period, the recipes that come with the traditional Christmas dinner of mince pies and roast turkey came about. For the American holiday, the additions of mashed potatoes and other Thanksgiving items came about to lessen the amount of governing influence that was seen in the old colonies so that a new tradition could be formed.
4. Christmas Tree Lighting
The list of lighting innovations that have come out of England over the years is too numerous to list. Let’s face it – if there are 14 families of patents that are just related to the Christmas turkey, then imagine how many there are that revolve around lighting. From miniature lights to their stands to their automatic inclusion on artificial trees, even if patents were first given in outside nations, the idea originated from something that was already in place in Britain in some form.
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