Before the Nutcracker is transformed into a charming prince, he’s something of an ugly duckling. That grimace, those staring eyes. Those teeth! Could there be a uglier harbinger of Christmas than a nutcracker doll?
Well, yes. These days a visit inside a Christmas shop can reveal a veritable cave of saucer-eyed elves, dazed plastic angels and Santas that look like they’ve had one eggnog too many. Yet, within the modern pantheon of Christmas critterines, the traditional Nutcracker is unique. Resplendent in his uniform, he is neither Christian missive nor a meddler from our pagan past. So how did this awkward-looking, über-practical piece of German hardware become an icon of our Western yuletide celebrations? (more…)