Sunday, December 9, 2007

History of the Nutcracker

Although Nutcrackers are a popular holiday item, the history of wooden nutcrackers is somewhat of a mystery. Stories about enchanted nutcrackers appear in folk-tales of Bohemia and Poland, but it seems that the carved object originated in the Saxony region of Germany about 250 years ago. At that time, the coal mines were depleted (or emptied) and the miners had to find other ways to make a living. Carving household objects out of wood became the regional specialty. The first noted nutcracker in the form we know today was the 1750 product of Erzgebirge, Germany.

It has been said that Nutcrackers as a holiday tradition is based on the fact that gilded nuts were a popular tree decoration and that something equally decorative was needed to open the nut to enjoy their contents. Legend has that a wealthy farmer sponsored a contest for the best product to crack open his crop of nuts. The winner, a puppeteer, was awarded a workshop for future generations to continue producing these nutcrackers.

Of course Tchaikovsky’s ballet has also had an influence on the popularity of nutcrackers.

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