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Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Nutcracker

The original German nutcrackers (Nussknackers) were developed in the Erzgebirge region of Germany.  Many of the village people worked in the Ore Mountains in the mines, but during the winter months, wood carving was the main source of income for poor families.  Life was hard for the miners who worked long hours and were often taken advantage of by their superiors.  Since Germans sometimes say someone has "a hard nut to crack" if they mean that the person is having difficulties, the 18th century woodworkers who created the now traditional form of nutcracker made the nutcracker figures in the shape of the people who made life difficult.  Thus, the nutcrackers were made to resemble kings, soldiers, and other authority figures.  While in everyday life the lower classes were at the mercy of sometimes harsh authorities, in their homes the tables could be turned by making figures of those authorities perform work for the poorer people.  

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