A Brit's guide to Christmas Dinner
I'm sure this is true all across the world. What's on your table at Christmas time is key.
I'm not just talking about the food either.
Typically on a Brit table, it's a more or less given that there WILL be a Cracker for each place setting, along with bright red serviettes and some festive table cloth. Something sparkly will be served to go with the classic Turkey dinner, like Asti Martini (Martini & Rossi) , Babycham, or Snowballs.
What's for dinner?
For starters (appetizer) Brits will usually serve up a prawn cocktail or a soup of some sort.
The main course is made up of Turkey packed to the brim with stuffing (I'm lazy and use PAXO which is ready mixed, just add hot water and butter then stuff to your hearts content. But some clever so-and-sos will make homemade stuffing) Brown gravy galore, and all the trimmings like Brussels sprouts, mashed carrots, peas, coquettes and roast potatoes. And my favorite of all. Mini sausages wrapped in bacon. And if you brought any of that lot of Marks and Spencers, you're well posh! Just to make sure everyone knows you went that extra mile (spent the money), you'll probably leave the packaging poking out the bin for all to see.
Black Forest Ghetto used to be a favorite for desert. But the tradition is Christmas Pudding. Not sure what the fad is now, but it will be a cake of some sort, guaranteed.
Then comes the Crackers. Fun for the kids, but to make sure it's fun for the adults, too, lots of sparkly stuff has been served by now.
Crackers are a staple MUST for every Christmas table.
And no. I'm not talking cheese and crackers. Although they usually show up at the end of a Christmas meal, too. Aussies refer to them as bon-bons. They're also enjoyed in Canada, New Zealand and across Europe. And they're apart of Russian New Year celebrations although those a little different and are used outside
So what exactly are Christmas Crackers?
It's then wrapped to look festive.
The cracker is pulled by two people, and, much in the manner of a wishbone, the cracker splits unevenly. The split is accompanied by a small bang or snapping sound produced by the effect of friction on a chemically impregnated card strip (similar to that used in a cap gun).
The person who gets the 'larger' part is the winner and gets to discover the treats inside. They share their joke with everyone at the table, and wear their 'paper crown'. The prize is usually a pile of rubbish, things like mini puzzles, tiny screw drivers, plastic jewelery etc.. unless you brought special ones with a theme. Disney do lots of these.
The Christmas Crackers are thought to date back to 1840s, when Thomas J. Smith came up with some creative ways to boost the sales of his bonbons. Think fortune cookie but for candy. And he added the 'crackle' effect. Soon, the sweeties were replaced with prizes and the rest is history. BUT there is evidence to suggest they were around in France in 1817, because of a letter to the Duchess of Richmond, which goes on to describe Cossacks which sound very similar to Christmas Crackers.
Either way, they're one of my favorite things about the Christmas Dinner, and if I could send them in the post, I'd totally offer up a box or two as prizes. But as they have the snappers inside them, I'm sure they'd be illegal to send.
Instead, I'm going to offer up another one of my favorite traditions during this holiday season. I'm going to give you the best gift. No. Really. I've literally got The Best Gift...by Wendy Markham. I read this a few years back, and adored it. Since then, I try to read it every Christmas. I love my holiday romances. The kids stopped wanting me to read The Christmas Carol and Shush, Santa, so I've got to get my holiday reading kicks somehow!
To be in with a chance to win this paperback, please comment below...what is the WORST gift you could possibly get this year? Oh, and as I'll throw in a digital copy of any book from my Decadent Publishing backlist and some British Choccies...I've not made our Christmas trip to the World Market yet, so I'll pop along and post in the comments which chocolates I've picked up for you when this post goes live.
The Best Gift: When Clara wakes up on Christmas morning next to her husband Drew, she's filled with joy because she has the perfect present: she's seven weeks pregnant with their first child. But no sooner does Clara tell Drew the news than an earthquake strikes in nearby San Francisco. The next thing Clara knows she's waking up in bed-alone-and discovers she's three years in the future. Where is her husband and what has happened to the child she was expecting? Clara is no stranger to unusual occurrences, but the last thing on her Christmas list was to time travel...again.
JoAnne Kenrick, an ex-Ghost Tour Guide turned Romance Author, is a Welsh lass who has lived in various countries around the world. She now calls North Carolina her home, where she lives with her husband, two children and a lazy cat. When they aren't demanding her attention, she can most likely be found watching a vampire movie, reading or baking up a British favorite in her N.C. kitchen. That is, when she isn't writing or chatting up a storm on social networking sites.