All over Britain on Christmas Day, families can be found sitting around their dining tables enjoying a traditional lunch of roast turkey with all the trimmings - and all, regardless of age, wearing coloured paper hats. It is rumoured that even the Queen wears her paper hat over lunch!
So why this quaint tradition? Where do these paper hats come from? The answer is the Christmas Cracker.
A Christmas Cracker is a cardboard paper tube, wrapped in brightly coloured paper and twisted at both ends. There is a banger inside the cracker, two strips of chemicallyimpregnated paper that react with friction so that when the cracker is pulled apart by two people, the cracker makes a bang.
Inside the cracker there is a paper crown made from tissue paper, a motto or joke on a slip of paper and a little gift.
Christmas crackers are a British tradition dating back to Victorian times when in the early 1850s, London confectioner Tom Smith started adding a motto to his sugared almond bon-bons which he sold wrapped in a twisted paper package.
The paper hat was added to the cracker in the early 1900s. The cracker was soon adopted as a traditional festive custom and today virtually every household has at least one box of crackers to pull over Christmas.