Christmas has many rituals associated with it, and I'm not talking about the god bothery stuff here either.
Christmas to me is always turkey, Christmas pudding and Christmas crackers. Without those three ingredients it just isn't right*. So far we've been lucky. This was our fifth Christmas here in Germany and we've managed to get crackers and pud every year, they get smuggled in as contraband by friends and family.
The quality of Christmas crackers is hugely variable and it can be tricky to get 'nice' ones when relying on friends to bring them over for you, but we've been OK this year, the Hotel Chocolat crackers while expensive do provide delicious chocolate, gorgeous gold crowns and dubious jokes, while the M&S or Sainsbury ones also went down well with the children**. Jas took great delight in reading out all the "jokes", but neither she nor Ben could understand why the jokes were so...so...unfunny, so we had to explain. That cracker jokes are expected to make people groan, it simply wont do for a cracker joke to be too funny, that said, here's a sample of this year's:
- what happened to the hyena who swallowed a stock cube?
- he made a laughing stock of himself.
- what do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back?
- a stick.
- how do you make an apple puff?
- chase it round the garden.
- how do you make a jacket last?
- make the trousers first.
A funnier joke concerns two friends of mine. Friend W was in England and had promised to bring me supplies back including amongst other things some water biscuits for cheese, some Golden Syrup and my Christmas crackers. Talking to her before she left I mentioned that I didn't need the syrup any more as another friend, R, had given me a jar, but maybe instead she could bring R some crackers. This was all forgotten about until yesterday, when the three of us met for drinks and cake.
W: "I've got your crackers in a cupboard at home, I keep forgetting them"
W: "Yeah some Jacobs crackers, for cheese."
At which point I piped up that it was Christmas crackers she was supposed to have brought back...
* the presents are of course a huge part of Christmas but I'm not counting them as one of the rituals because the giving and receiving of presents is integral to Christmas in so many countries, it isn't what makes an English Christmas to me.
** actually that should be "child", as Ben at the grand old age of 14 seems to be finding everything we adults do "unamusing", it must take a huge amount of effort to tune us out so effectively.