Christmas would not be Christmas in Germany without the colorful bearded soldiers made of wood. Nutcrackers are a global phenomenon, with exports reaching places like Japan and Australia.
Nutcrackers in the form of wooden carvings of a soldier or other profession have existed since the 15th century. Most of the wooden creations took form in a soldier, knight, king or religious leader. This was said to be a statement against the ruling class. The figures were meant to make fun of the authority by having them do the mundane task of cracking open nuts. These nutcrackers portray a person with a large mouth which the operator opens by lifting a lever in the back of the figurine. Originally one could insert a nut in the big-toothed mouth, press down and thereby crack the nut. Today nutcrackers of that style serve mostly for decoration, mainly at Christmas time. The ballet The Nutcracker derives its name from this festive holiday decoration.
The carving of nutcrackers; developed as a cottage industry in forested rural areas of Germany. The most famous nutcracker carvings come from Sonneberg in Thuringia (also a center of doll making) and from the Ore Mountains. Wood-carving usually provided the only income for the people living there. Today the travel industry supplements their income by bringing visitors to the remote areas.
Steinbach Nutcrackers have become popular in the United States as well, and the recreated “Bavarian village” of Leavenworth, Washington, even features a nutcracker museum. Many other materials also serve to make decorated nutcrackers, such as porcelain, silver, and brass; the museum displays samples.
Carvings by famous names like Junghanel, Klaus Mertens, Karl, Olaf Kolbe, Petersen, Christian Ulbricht and especially the Steinbach nutcrackers have become collectors’ items.
The commercial success of Christmas nutcrackers occurred after the Tchaikovsky ballet “The Nutcracker” in 1892. Today, Germany is the leading manufacturer of these highly popular German Christmas Ornaments.
You can even visit a nutcracker museum, here are address and website:
Familie Uwe u. Jürgen Löschner
Telefon: 03 73 61/41 61
Fax: 03 73 61/1 48 76
Bild von Hermann Traub auf Pixabay