Christmas Fact 21

German Advent Calendar: Fact of the Day

21. Dezember – Der Adventskalender

Nutcrackers – Nussknacker

The Erzgebirge, or Ore Mountains region of Germany, is considered the home of the wooden nutcracker (Nussknacker). These German “nutcrackers” are not really functional for cracking nuts, but are intended as decorative objects or toys.


A typical decorative wooden nutcracker from the Erzgebirge region in eastern Germany. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

Wilhelm Friedrich Füchtner (1844-1923), a woodworker from the town of Seiffen in the Erzgebirge, is considered the creator of the first mass-produced, lathe-crafted nutcrackers. Around 1870 Füchtner based his nutcracker on an 1851 illustrated children’s book entitled König Nussknacker und der arme Reinhold by Heinrich Hoffmann (who also wrote Struwwelpeter). An earlier book, Nussknacker und Mausekönig (The Nutcracker and the Mouse King) by E.T.A. Hoffmann (1814, later revised by Alexander Dumas as a children’s tale) was the first to make the connection between nutcrackers and Christmas. If you’ve seen Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” ballet (1891), based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale, you know the story.

Today the sixth generation of the Füchtner family continues to run the workshop in Seiffen. The Werkstätte Volker Füchtner still produces nutcrackers, toys, and many other artistic wooden Christmas (and other) items.

Lied des Nussknacker (excerpt, English below)
König Nussknacker, so heiß ich.
Harte Nüsse, die zerbeiß ich.
Süße Kerne schluck ich fleißig;
Doch die Schalen, ei, die schmeiß ich
Lieber andern hin,
weil ich König bin.
Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894)

Song of the Nutcracker
King Nutcracker, that’s my name.
Hard nuts, I chew them up.
Sweet kernels I swallow diligently,
but the shells, ay, those I
prefer at others to fling,
because I’m the king.

WEB > Webshop Erzgebirge – Nussknacker
WEB > Eine Sage aus dem Erzgebirge vom Nussknacker-Museum, Neuhausen im Erzgebirge (south of Dresden)
WEB > History of Nutcrackers – Nutcracker Museum, Leavenworth, Washington


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