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Article 1 (Dec 2017): Nutcrackers have origins deep in human history

December 19, 2017

Nuts have been a staple of the human diet for millennia and where there are nuts, there are also nutcrackers.  Nutcrackers, one of the symbols of Christmas today, have a long evolution from simple stones to elaborate, and decorative figurines.

The oldest existing metal nutcrackers were made about 300 BC and were simply levers.  By the 13th century, iron and brass nutcrackers began to take on shapes and after the 15th century wood carvers began to make lovely, intricate figures.  The colorful wooden soldier figures were first seen in the Erzgebirge regions of Germany during the 1800s. In 1872, Wilhelm Fuchtner, known as the "Father of the nutcracker," initiated the first mass production of nutcrackers in the shape of human figures. 

Nutcrackers became associated with Christmas during the Victorian era when children began to receive small nutcrackers in their Christmas stockings.  Today, their popularity has been enhanced by the traditional performances of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite" ballet during the Christmas season.  While some decorative nutcrackers can still crack nuts, most are decorative pieces brought out as the tree goes up and the wreath goes on the door.

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