What the German Nutcracker is All About

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The nutcrackers' jaws are made for cracking - Image: robertharding

The German Nutcracker is a traditional Christmas decoration that originated from the Erzgebirge region of Germany. The first nutcrackers were made in the late 17th century and were used to crack nuts. They were later used as Christmas decorations and became popular in the 19th century.

The nutcracker is a wooden figurine that is carved to resemble a soldier, king, or other authority figure. The nutcracker’s mouth is designed to open and close with a lever at the back of the figurine, allowing it to crack nuts.

Long before it gained popularity in the world, it was converted by French writer Alexandre Dumas in 1844. Though not dark as the German Nutcracker, with music composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, ballet dancers  Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov performed it in 1892.

And just like that, England saw the first complete performance of the ballet in 1934. In 1944, a San Francisco Ballet company had it staged in the US for the first time too during Christmas.

The owner of “the first nutcracker museum in Europe,” Nussknackermuseum, Uwe Löschner in an interview with DW explained why there will likely be no Christmas without nutcrackers.

During Christmas time, poor people used their nuts when they would bake their traditional Stollen (fruit bread) and cookies; and nutcrackers were used to crack those nuts,” he told DW.

Today, nutcrackers are popular Christmas decorations around the world. They are often displayed on mantels, shelves, and Christmas trees. The Nutcracker has also become a popular subject in literature, music, and film.

After 150 years, the Nutcracker continues to lure visitors who want to experience firsthand what the concept is travel to Germany year in and year out.

“The first nutcracker museum in Europe”, Nussknackermuseum in Neuhausen continues to hold the highest collection of nutcrackers as it serves various exhibition events aside from its annual nutcracker collectors’ convention.

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