Wooden nutcrackers can become an obsession
There is something magical about nutcrackers, especially at Christmas-time. That is, those nutcrackers carved in the shape of a soldier, a king, a knight; the same nutcrackers used in the ballet The Nutcracker. They add a festive touch to any home and are always interesting to look at since there are so many designs. These days, nutcrackers can be athletes, bakers, waiters, or whatever profession the designer can think of.
While they are different, all nutcrackers have their similarities; the handlebar moustache, the long hair, the hat or crown, the pencil thin nose and of course the large teeth and the lever behind that opens and closes the mouth. However, these nutcrackers are not meant to crack any nuts, they are purely decorative. In addition to these features, the nutcracker is usually holding something in his right hand; a sword is the most frequent appendage, but it can be holding whatever is related to the overall design. Nutcrackers come in any size, from larger than life to ones small enough to hang on a Christmas tree.
The nutcrackers we know today have a long history, dating as far back as the 1600s in Germany. It became a cottage industry in Germany and was the only way many could make a living in their small towns. The most famous and coveted nutcrackers are made by Steinbach in Germany. Now nutcrackers are mass manufactured around the world. However, there are still those who make handcrafted nutcrackers. Glen Crider of Mechanicsville, Virginia is the most well-known maker of nutcrackers in the US. He started off as a clock-maker but eventually began making toys and then nutcrackers. There is also a nutcracker museum in Leavenworth, Washington.
Nutcrackers first came to world-wide prominence in 1816 when E.T.A. Hoffman wrote a children’s book based on a nutcracker he had bought.The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was an instant hit; it also inspired the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky and the ballet based on that music. Nutcrackers are still popular today, maybe even more so. In 2008, the US postal service issued a stamp featuring the nutcracker designs of Glen Crider.
Nutcrackers have become a sort of obsession of mine. I buy at least one nutcracker a year; this year I bought three. I love how they look spread around my apartment. Although, when cleaning up this year I noticed that they look more stunning when all grouped together on one table. My current favorite nutcracker is the one wearing a beret, holding a bottle of wine and a loaf of French bread.
I don’t know what it is that draws me to nutcrackers. I love to see the different designs that people come up with. Of course, on my budget I pick up most of my nutcrackers at places like Wal-Mart or Zellers. I would love to have one made either by Steinbach or by Glen Crider (if anyone wants to donate to my nutcracker fund please send money to my paypal account). My ideal nutcracker would be a writer nutcracker, holding a pen and a notebook. I haven’t come across one of those yet but I will keep on searching.
Whether you like nutcrackers or not, you have to admit that they help to brighten up any décor.
From CBS Sunday Morning
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