Lunedi Lunacy

Once again this year our Christmas lunch table will be decorated with various goodies, small bags of treats, a scattering of greenery, candles and a Tom Smith Christmas Cracker at each place. A very English tradition that hearkens back to 1847 when confectioner Tom Smith was looking at a way to market his twists of sweets. Tradition says that a crack from a burning log gave him the inspiration for the strip of paper impregnated with silver fulminate that give that satisfying snap at the beginning of Christmas dinner.

Early Christmas Crackers circa 1850.

The initial crackers were filled with candy but sweets were soon dropped in favour of gifts, often of a substantial or personal nature. As they became more common place paper hats, trinkets, and a joke or motto spilled out when the crackers burst. However I did note that these days, for those so inclined little treats such as premium whiskys, perfumes, Mont Blanc pens, a custom designed yacht, or a Caribbeanc condo are available at finer stores everywhere. I can only assume the last two are in the form of gift certificates???

Smith’s invention caught the public’s imagination and his Cosaque (Cossacks), as they were first known, quickly became a popular Christmas product. The name was changed to the more descriptive Crackers within a few years after their first appearance. Smith began to sell hundreds of different themed varieties from as low as 4 up to 48 shillings. His 1891-2 catalogue listed some 200 varieties with fanciful names such as Lilliputian, Cupid’s Playthings, Somebody’s Luggage, Lovers’ Secrets, Darwinian Crackers, and Bal Masque.

During the First World War “Victory Crackers” were extremely popular. Each cracker bore a drawing of a soldier or tar from a different corner of the Empire. Of course the crackers were in a patriotic red, white and blue.

The novelty items in the crackers depended on their theme. Spinster’s Crackers included wedding rings, faded flowers, night caps, thimbles, mirrors, powder puffs and hair dye while Bachelor’s Crackers included pipes, bottles of champagne, pawn tickets, cigars, packs of cards and overdue tradesmen’s bills. By comparison today’s cracker bounty tends to seem a little less imaginative if not frankly mundane.

But regardless of the contents a given was and is always the slip of paper with a corny “joke” on it. Friday night our friend Susan introduced a party game that included Christmas Cracker jokes. Laurent and I had them on the floor with a few of these goodies:

December 23 is Pfeffernüsse Day – which are often, so I’m told, mistaken for Russian Tea Cakes. A natural mistake – I guess?

Lunedi Lunacy

It seems that Christmas carols started on sound systems and broadcast programmes sometime around Labour Day but I may just be imaging it. The problem is that with so much out there and so few are played … repeatedly. Fortunately I’m only subjected to them when shopping – though Laurent has been favouring an internet channel that plays a madding loop of the same 10 or 12 compositions endlessly, but don’t tell him I said so. I do pity the poor sales people in malls etc who have been subjected to Céline Dion crucify our Lord by shrieking O Holy Night in an overblown David Foster arrangement, at the very least, a hundred times a day.

Unfortunately Dion and Foster have ensured that “Minuit, chrétiens”, a carol I once loved, has been added to a list that includes that bloody kid with the drum, some lady wanting me for Christmas, a lounge singer who treats “Silent Night” as an excuse for crooning at its most cringe-making, and choristers who can’t remember the words so go “ding, dong” supposedly like “sweet silver bells”.

And someone should tell them that silver doesn’t work for bells – one big “dong” (puerility! I tells ya! puerility!) and there would be a dent big enough to hold the census population of Bethlehem circa 0001 AD!

According to Wikipedia: “Angels We Have Heard on High” is generally sung to the hymn tune “Gloria”, a traditional French carol as arranged by Edward Shippen Barnes. Its most memorable feature is its chorus, Gloria in excelsis Deo, where the “o” of “Gloria” is fluidly sustained through 16 notes of a rising and falling melismatic melodic sequence. All well and good but normally at least one (or two if I happen to be in the congregation) wander off pitch and gulp a breath on that “melismatic melodic sequence”.

Okay enough of the Christmas Curmudgeon – time to join the gang at Okefenokee Swamp in my favourite carol: Deck Us Out With Boston Charlie. Ready now? A-one, an’ a-two: Walla Walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoos

December 16th is Chocolate Covered Anything Day – I can think of a few things I’d like to cover in chocolate!

Santa Claws*

*Yes I know it’s bad… really bad but you try being clever about cats and Christmas.

Just thought I’d share this year’s Simon’s Cat Christmas Special with all my cat loving friends.

For Vicki, Charlie, Mitchell, Debra and all the rest!

Meowy Christmas**

**Hey I don’t make these up you know, I just repeat them, as the Actress said the Archbishop! And it could be worse I saw one that said Feliz Navipaws!

December 12th is Gingerbread House Day – hmmm.. a solution to affordable housing?????

Lunedi Lunacy

My goodness but YouTube – despite its (I am assuming it is an “it” not a “she” or “he”, though maybe a “they”) – annoying habit of suggesting total wild card videos does come up with some winners. Such as Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq – who’s urbanity gives “busking” new depth of meaning. And who with the luscious London Belles (yes I know that totally un-PC but don’t blame me blame the eggnog!) gives voices to those thoughts many of us have this time of year.

December 9th is Christmas Card Day – the sending of which by snail mail is a tradition that seems to be having a revival in the past few years. Yes say I!

The Season is for Sharing

And I just had to share this from She Who Seeks in Alberta.  Unfortunately she doesn’t have a reblog feature so I’ll just do it as a photo link.   A left click on Santa will take you to a little gem from Air New Zealand.

just-stole-santas-naughty-list-ironically-its-almost-identical-to-6300049

And you will notice that there are no delegates from Canada – just saying.

Thanks Debra – needed a bit of a gentle laugh today and you provided it.

On this day in 1912: the Nefertiti Bust is discovered.