Christmas crackers ,
"Christmas poppers or 'bon-bons are art of Christmas celebrations in the United
Kingdom and Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South
Africa, as well as the United States of America to a lesser degree. They are
also popular in Ireland. A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a
brightly decorated twist of paper, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper.
The cracker is pulled by two people, and, much in the manner of a wishbone, the
cracker splits unevenly. The split is accompanied by a small bang or snapping
sound produced by the effect of friction on a chemically impregnated card strip
(similar to that used in a cap gun). One chemical used for the friction strip
is silver fulminate, which is highly unstable.|
Crackers are typically pulled at the Christmas dinner table or at parties. In one version of the cracker tradition, the person with the larger portion of cracker empties the contents from the tube and keeps them. In another each person will have their own cracker and will keep its contents regardless of whose end they were in. Typically these contents are a coloured paper hat or crown; a small toy, small plastic model or other trinket and a motto, a joke, a riddle or piece of trivia on a small strip of paper.
Assembled crackers are typically sold in boxes of three to twelve. These typically have different designs usually with red, green and gold colors. Making crackers from scratch using the tubes from used toilet rolls and tissue paper is a common Commonwealth activity for children. Kits to make crackers can also be purchased.
Crackers are also a part of New Year celebrations in Russia (where they are called хлопушка - khlopushka) and some countries of the former Soviet Union. Those are however more similar to pyrotechnical devices, normally used outdoors, activated by one person, and produce a stronger bang accompanied by fire and smoke.