Traditional Christmas nutcrackers are carved from wood to resemble what could be described as “a rather frightful assortment of kings, princes and soldiers.” Painted in uniforms of bright colors, their large bottom jaws open to hold and crush a nut when a lever at the back of the head is pressed down.This type of nutcracker has been crafted in the forest regions of eastern Germany since the 15th century. Wood carving provides the major income for those who live there. The area around Sonnenberg and Erzgebirge is famous for many expertly-carved religious Christmas ornaments and decorations including creches and pyramids. The skill of these craftsmen is easily distinguished from others as wood carving is still an important part of their economy. If you are planning a trip to Germany, consider visiting this region.Their Christmas crafts are an art form!
Nutcrackers were quite popular during the 19th century. In 1816, E.T.A. Hoffman wrote the classic Christmas story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, where the nutcracker comes to life. In1891, the legendary choreographer Marius Petipa commissioned PyotrIlyich Tchaikovsky to compose music for the Nutcracker Ballet which premiered in Russia in 1892. This ballet was first performed in the United States in 1940. Today, "the nutcracker" in its many forms continues as an undisputed Christmas tradition.