With Christmas almost upon us, we thought it only right to share with you our 5 favourite Christmas traditions and how where they originated from.
London sweet-maker Tom Smith invented Christmas crackers in the late 1840s, inspired by traditional, paper-wrapped French bonbons. Even though he included mottos or riddles inside each, it was not until he found a way to make them “crack” when pulled apart that sales took off. His sons Tom, Walter and Henry later added hats and novelty gifts (we prefer chocolate in ours!)
The Christmas tree
While Christmas trees have been around for a millennium in northern Europe, the first one did not appear in the UK until the 1830s. When Prince Albert put up a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle in 1841, he started what became an evergreen trend.
Turkeys originated in Mexico and were first brought to Britain in 1526 by William Strickland. Henry VIII enjoyed turkey and although the bird became fashionable in high society in the late 19th century it was Edward VII who made it de rigueur at Christmas for the middle classes.
Also known as plum or figgy pudding, this Christmas staple possibly has its roots as far back as the Middle Ages in a wheat-based pottage known as frumenty. By the mid 17th century, it was thicker and had developed into a dessert with the addition of eggs, dried fruit and alcohol.
Early mince pies were made of meat, fruit and spice and inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine brought back by the Crusaders.
They commonly had 13 ingredients representing Christ and the Apostles, and were formed in a large oval shape to represent the manger. Meat had disappeared from the recipe by Victorian times, although beef suet is often still included.