Other British traditions

Christmas crackers

All over Britain on Christmas Day, families can be found sitting around their dining tables enjoying a traditional lunch of roast turkey and all, young and old, wearing coloured paper hats. 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, so that when the cracker is pulled apart by two people, the cracker makes a bang.


Each person takes the end of the cracker and pulls. Inside the cracker there is a paper crown made from tissue paper, a joke on a small piece of paper and a little gift. However none of the jokes are funny as the same jokes have been appearing in crackers for ages already.


Two people pulling a christmas cracker.


Remember, Remember, the 5th of November.... Gunpowder, Treason and Plot! 


On the fifth of November fireworks and bonfires can be seen all over Britain. Why do the British do this? Gunpowder, Treason and Plot is the answer!


A group of Roman Catholic nobles and gentlemen led by Robert Catesby made a plan which perhaps could the biggest 'bang' in history.  Their plan was to blow up the King, Queen, church leaders, assorted nobles and the Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder strategically placed in the cellars beneath the Palace of Westminster.


The plot was apparently revealed when the Catholic Lord Monteagle received a letter to warn him to stay away from the Parliament. The letter was presented to Robert Cecil, James I's Chief Minister.


Guy Fawkes was born in Yorkshire in 1570. Fawkes had been a soldier who had spent several years fighting in Italy.  It was during this period that he adopted the name Guido (Italian for Guy) perhaps to impress the ladies!  What we do know is that Guido was arrested in the early hours of the morning of November 5th 1605, in a cellar under the House of Lords, next to the 36 kegs of gunpowder, with a box of matches in his pocket and a guilty expression on his face!


While being tortured, Guy Fawkes identified the names of his co-conspirators.  Catesby and three others were killed by soldiers while attempting to escape. The remaining eight were imprisoned in the Tower of London. They all got the dead penalty and were executed.


Guy (Guido) Fawkes.