How to play a fiery Victorian Christmas game and not get burned

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Sounds like a game in college called Flaming Nuts.

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That’s the characteristic yellow of sodium.


Surely anybody who has read Agatha Christie, or has seen the excellent Poirot series, is familiar with snapdragon?


In high school I discovered regular 70% rubbing alcohol could burn on your skin with minimal discomfort, as the water caused enough of a barrier to prevent damage. It was halloween, and I was carrying a makeshift fire as part of my costume (an old can, with some foil to raise the bottom, and lit alcohol). People were extra-freaked when it sloshed a bit and I had flames dripping down my hand. [I do not recommend this in *any* way whatsoever… I was an ADHD teen living on my own for several months.]

Anyways, when I decided to demonstrate this super-power to my kids, I discovered it very much did NOT I remembered. It was quite painful at first, and it smelled of burnt hair. Turns out my teen self didn’t have hand hair, but my older self had all these perfect little candle wicks just waiting to light and pull the heat down to the skin. (Later, I read that Richard Feynman went through a nearly identical process of discovery!)

Good news is, with the hairs burned off, I could indeed demonstrate the effect. But I was a bit more trepidatious. :smiley:


The always wonderful Tasting History just covered this in their figgy pudding episode:

(cued to the start ot the Snapdragon bit)


In a normal year I flame the Xmas pudding, which impresses our guests. This being 2020, 1) there will be no guests to impress and 2) I would probably burn the house down.


I’ve actually only read that one particular Agatha Christie story, and it was indeed where I first heard about snapdragon.


So the reward for sticking your hand in fire is. . . a raisin?

Yeah, fun game.


And not disgracing your family by your cowardice and ruining your chances of ever finding a wife, forcing you to flee to Africa, where you will die of malaria within three months.

So yes.


As for “why isn’t it popular anymore”, pair a bunch of somewhat drunken people and a bowl of alcohol which is on fire, then add “jamming their hands in at random” to get “oh shit we set the house on fire”.


A similar game we used to play in HS and college was to drop an object (pen, tennis ball, earring) into liquid nitrogen, then pull the object out. For added effect we’d hit our hand on the table and scream loudly (implying our hand shattered).

The very thin layer of air around your hand protects you briefly while you’re in the liquid nitrogen grabbing said object. It’s cold, but not debilitatingly so.

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Ahhhhh, it was only about a year ago that the city finally got around to replacing the sodium street light just feet away from my balcony. Goes without saying that they put in a hideous cold light led abomination. I was lonesome for the old street lamp for weeks.


it’s all fun and games until some careless yokel starts a wildfire

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And yet we still have Feuerzangenbowle.


Um, would that be tree nuts or “deez nuts”? Ouch!



Use an old serving spoon, pour in some brandy, hold it over a candle, let it heat to promote evaporation, gently move spoon to one side to let the candle ignite the fumes, pour it over the pudding – all done in a darkened room.

Don’t know what was in the sauce, add brandy butter. Mmmm


Reminds me of my pyro childhood friend who set a plate of alcohol on fire in his bedroom and launched it into the air trying to put it out. I will never forget the panic of seeing hundreds of droplet fires all around the room. He froze up while I put them out with a bedspread.

Yeah, this is not safe.


The Dickens! It’s mentioned in Dickens, although I can’t recall exactly where - I think Pickwick Papers, but I can’t be sure. I call your Agatha Christie, and Dickens beats it!

You have me beaten fair and square both in terms of length and age of source material.

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