The Evolution of the Christmas Nutcracker | The Range
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The Evolution of the Christmas Nutcracker

Nutcrackers have become a wonderful way to decorate your home and garden at Christmas time. With nutcrackers to hang on the tree, life size ones to place in hallways, smaller ornaments to decorate windowsills, and much more, these decorations have become a firm favourite around the globe. However, these festive items have a complex and interesting history that many are unaware of.


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German Origins

Nutcrackers in Europe started being made from wood between the 15th and 16th centuries. Many countries were carving these nutcrackers into animals and other fun shapes, but the soldier figure we know today originated in Eastern Germany. The residents of the Ore Mountains used to mine for resources such as gold, tin and silver and whittled toys and decorations out of the forest’s timber. In the 17th century, mining began to slow as the resources ran out. This was when they started to carve the soldiers with grim mouths as a way to mock the ruling class and express their frustration with them. These were sold at markets and became a trendy collectable item in Germany.

Used initially to crack nuts, these soldiers’ jaws would open via the handle on the back for you to place a nut in its mouth. The Germans liked this as it reduced the powers controlling their country to mere tools used to crack nuts. In German mythology, these figures were also believed to hold strength and power, bring good luck and ward off evil spirits, which led to them becoming a popular gift.

When the popularity of the nutcracker spread, Wilhelm Fuchtner, often referred to as the father of the nutcracker, made the first commercial production in the mid-late 1800s. His ancestors still run this mass-scale production factory today.

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Global Popularity

Tchaikovsky’s ballet adaptation of E.T Hoffman’s story The Nutcracker and Mouse King was first performed in 1892. This ballet included a toy nutcracker, which further spread the popularity of these in Europe.

The fame of nutcrackers didn’t spread across the globe until after World War Two when American soldiers brought them back as souvenirs. Tchaikovsky’s ballet also became popular in 1940s America and became a festive tradition, which is said to be one of the reasons nutcrackers became associated with Christmas.

Many nutcrackers today are purely used as decorations and no longer crack nuts. People started to care less about their ability to crack nuts and more about how they looked as a festive decorative item. Whilst traditional nutcrackers are still being made, typically having around 130 production steps and created from 60 different pieces, nowadays, you often see more contemporary nutcrackers in various outfits, with everything from celebrities to doctors.


Why not embrace tradition and ward off bad spirits this Christmas by adding one of these charming decorations into your home? With a variety of different styles and characters available, our Nutcracker Collection is sure to inspire.

Inspiration for your home
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