Issue Date: October 23, 2008
City: New York, NY
Germans coined the phrase, “Gott gibt die Nüsse, aber wir müssen sie knacken selbst.” (God gives the nuts but we have to crack them ourselves). This verse is recited to teach German children that life is often difficult, but if you persevere, the rewards are plentiful. This life lesson may have contributed to the popularity of the beloved wooden figurine, as it helped children to enjoy the benefits of hard work.
Realizing the nutcracker’s importance to Germany, E.T. Amadeus Hoffman wrote the play, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Later, Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky used this play as a basis for his Nutcracker Suite (ballet). It is a tale of a young German girl named Marie who falls in love with a beautiful nutcracker doll, which later comes to life as a prince. Numerous versions of this ballet have been performed throughout the world. Each year, millions of eager fans enjoy watching and thousands of young, talented dancers enjoy performing the holiday favorite.
Following the American debut of this classic in 1944, interest in the wooden nutcracker skyrocketed. Over sixty years later, the nutcracker is considered a staple for holiday decorating and a much sought-after item for collectors to cherish and display.