Crackers: an essential part of our Christmas celebrations – a novelty toy, a paper hat and, of course, a joke! Often more ‘oh no’ than ‘ho-ho-ho’, apparently one of the reasons that these terrible puns and riddles are so popular is precisely because they are so bad. Some psychologists believe that when we hear the punchline to a truly awful joke and all let out a groan, we experience it as a bonding moment; a little social grease that helps us all to get along!
Q: What cheese can you hide a horse in?
When Tom Smith first invented the Christmas cracker in around 1847 (another thing the Victorians gave us!) it included just a sugared almond and a simple love poem or motto. The ‘bang’ appeared later when Tom was inspired by a log he heard crackling in his grate. Hats weren’t included until 1900 and the love mottos had morphed into really bad jokes by the 1930s.
Looking for some seasonal classroom-music inspiration? how about this cracker-inspired novelty game of Christmas hunt the tune? You can use hand bells for this or you could number one octave of a glockenspiel (just CDEFGABC) or use a full set of chime bars.
Q: How did Scrooge win the football game?
Below are three very famous Christmas tunes. The numbers correspond to a scale of C major (so 1 is C; 2 is D; 3 is E etc.) What’s missing, of course, is the rhythm! Try playing the notes in their groupings and see if you can work out what they are. If you get really stuck, the answers are all at the end of this post.
1. 333 333 35123 4444433 3332232 5 333 333 35123 4444433 3355421
2. 5653865 5656587 4542765 5656563 5653865 5656587 4542765 5656521
3. 555 5535 555 5545 57776 5554 333322221
And when you’re sitting around the table this Christmas, arms crossed and crackers at the ready, remember this: according to Guinness World Records, the record for the longest cracker-pulling chain is held by The Harrodian School in Barnes. On 10 December 2015 they pulled 1081 crackers (and probably a couple of shoulders as well!).
A: The ghost of Christmas passed.
So what, on earth, is green, covered in tinsel and goes croak??
A: Mistle-toad, of course!
Answers to Hunt The Christmas Tune:
1. Jingle Bells
2. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
3. Winter Wonderland
NB There are prizes to be won in next week's blog – don't miss it!