Five European Things That Make for a Great Christmas

Here is a brief list of five European things that make a good Christmas, but that you might be afraid of. Embrace change, Texas! I have included pictures so you don't think I'm insane, and links to Amazon where you can still get these things (albeit with now very expensive shipping, because I didn't write this blog fast enough). All these things are real.

5. Selection Boxes

Every British child will find one of these in his stocking, and they are the most believable thing on this list. Basically, it's a large stylish cardboard rectangle full of different full-size bars of chocolate (normally Cadburys) destined to be eaten by 10am on Christmas morning. I'm sure you have something like this, but research is not my strong point. Eating is.

4. Christmas Pudding

It's like a big rich sugary alcoholic fruit cake, in the shape of a flat-topped dome, which is served all moist as the final showy point of Christmas dinner. The showy part is that we pour brandy on it, switch all the lights off, and set that bitch on fire. That's right. British Christmas is way cool. Pro-tip - let the fire go out before serving. Also sometimes feature coins inside, because the only thing cooler than fire is someone choking to death. Must be served with either custard or brandy butter, which is frankly an invention I'm surprised the State Fair never picked up on.

3. Boxing Day You can't buy this on Amazon, because it is the frankly conceptual notion of December 26th. It's an extra holiday, a national day off to recover from Christmas excess. Apparently, it's the day that tradesmen would receive a 'Christmas Box' from their employers, but growing up I always assumed we all had the day off because of some old sport-based tradition where people spent the day punching each other. Most of all you need this Christmas tradition, Texas. No one should be going back to work the day after Christmas. It's inhumane.

2. Mince Pies

This isn't how it sounds. No meat is involved in this pie. In Britain, we for some reason call a collection of raisins, spices, alcohol, and cherries mincemeat, and then we put it inside a thick sugary pastry. Apparently it used to contain meat, but that fell by the wayside a long time ago. These things are pretty much as Christmas as it gets in Britain. Should be warmed, and served with cream. You can easily eat like six in a sitting if you have commitment.

1. Christmas Crackers

Not a cheese cracker. Instead, a garish tube of cardboard and wrapping paper, filled with (and this is true for any cracker) a crown-like hat, a bad joke, and a small, pointless toy. Each place-setting has a cracker, and to open them you must pull the cracker with your neighbor, promoting togetherness and joy until some bastard gets the larger half of two crackers, thus winning two lots of contents, and has to be forced by a grown-up to redistribute his winnings. The jokes are tremendously awful, as it is against the law to put any good jokes inside a Christmas cracker, and tradition that, before food can be eaten, everyone must go around the table and read their joke. They must also then put on their paper hat, which stays on for the duration of Christmas dinner and sneakily discard their toy forever (common toys include really crap magic tricks, a pack of miniscule cards impossible to shuffle, and a set of screwdrivers too small to fit into anything but a child's eye). Only then may the meal commence.

The best bit is that there is a piece of cardboard inside covered in, and I'm quoting from Wikipedia here, "highly unstable" chemicals, so that when you pull the cracker apart, it produces a bang, and a little bit of smoke. This part scares Americans. I told you, our Christmases are badass.

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Gavin Cleaver
Contact: Gavin Cleaver