Friday, December 6, 2013

In a Nutshell

Swedish Santa, German Clockmaker, Erik the Viking, and a Beefeater from the Tower of London. These guys are some of my favorites - they are diminutive (about 4 inches tall) and worldly.

Nutcrackers, in a rudimentary sense, are as old as the hills. Over time they have become more elaborate and decorative. By the 18th and 19th centuries, nutcrackers began resembling animals and humans. Decorative or toy nutcrackers, however, did not become popular until the 1800s, beginning in Germany.  It was once believed that Nutcrackers brought good luck to a family, protected the household, and even ward off evil spirits. Once practical tools, then decorative tools, they’ve now become mostly decorative, collectable icons of the holidays. A ballet from long ago has helped kindle a love Nutcrackers worldwide.
In 1892, a two act ballet premiered in Russia based on a story by ETA Hoffman, the score written by Tchaikovsky. Though not very successful at the time, the ballet and the score have gained popularity over the centuries and are now a holiday staple, performed widely the world round.

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