(Vocabulary in bold explained below.)
When the Christmas table is laid in Britain there is always a cracker at every place setting. The crackers are pulled with a loud CRACK!! and out pops a small toy or trinket, a paper hat in the shape of a crown and a slip of paper with joke, motto, riddle or trivial fact written on it. Crackers were invented by Tom Smith a London confectioner who was looking for a new way to promote his boiled sweets. Little did he realise his invention would become a tradition!
laid (pp verb lay) = to ready the table for a meal
place setting = knives,forks, spoons and plates as set around the table for each person
crackers = card tubes filled with a toy a joke and a Paper hat
trinket = toy, ornament, jewellery
slip = small piece
motto = slogan
riddle = verbal puzzle
trivial = not important
confectioner = somebody who makes sweets
promote = advertise
Do you like cracking jokes? Here are some I got in crackers last year - will they have you cracking up?
Q: What do elves learn at school?
A: The elf-abet!
Q: What do you call a snowman in summer?
A: A puddle!
Q: Who is a snowman's favourite relative?
A: Aunt Arctica!
Q: What sits under your Christmas tree and sings all day?
A: Elvis Pressie!
Q: Where do snowmen go to dance?
A: A snow ball!
Q: Who brings presents to animals at Christmas?
A: Santa Paws!
Q: What did one snowman say to the other snowman?
A: Can you smell carrots?
I was never known for my great singing voice (this is still true!). Cracking under the pressure our music teacher warned us to sing up or else... so I put all my heart into it, his comment was "Nice to hear the boys at last!" On the merit of my weird deep voice, I got into the school choir and one of the things I remember most vividly was the Christmas Carol Concert in the local church. Huddled in our uniforms under between the sparkling tree and the altar, the dare was who would sing the wrong words to the carols. Here are some of my favourites and some I found on the Web.
We Three Kings of Oil and Tar
We three kings of oil and tar,
one in a taxi, one in a car,
one on a scooter blowing his hooter
smoking a fat cigar.
While Shepherds Wash Their Socks by Night
While shepherds wash their socks by night
all watching ITV,
the angel of the Lord came down
and switched to BBC.
Jingle bells, Batman smells,
Robin flew away.
The bat mobile lost a Wheel
and Joker got away.
The Twelve Days of Fast Food (Last verse only for brevity!)
On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My drive through gave to me:
Twelve bags of Pepto,
Eleven pounds of blubber,
Ten baked potatoes,
Nine polish hot dogs,
Eight bowls of chili,
Seven pints of coleslaw,
Six chocolate milkshakes,
Five onion rings,
Four Egg McMuffins,
Three Biggie Fries,
Two Happy Meals,
And a Big Bacon Classic with Cheese
White Christmas(Inspiration for a young J.K.Rowling?)
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
just like the wands I used to know
Where tree tops glisten
and Children listen
to hear slave elves in the snow.
Why don't you have a crack at writing your own?
Phrasal verbs and idioms with crack.
be crackers about something = to be crazy about it
get off to a cracking start = begin very well
the crack of dawn = early in the morning
crack out the champagne (also break out the bubbly) = celebrate/open a bottle of champagne
crack a joke = tell a joke
crack up = laugh until you cry/go crazy
crack under the pressure = have health problems due to stress
have a crack at = try to do something
Enjoy the holiday! Stay safe and see you in the New Year! Happy 2014!