and yes, Virginia, there IS a Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth, WA. This unique venue houses a large collection of Christian Steinbach nutcrackers–considered the foremost handicrafter of the holiday brigade.
Standing wooden nutcrackers in the form of soldiers and kings began appearing in the Sonneberg and Erzgebirge regions of Germany by 1800, and in 1830, the term “Nussknacker” appeared in the dictionary of the Brothers Grim. Nutcrackers became associated with Christmas with the 1892 debut of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite ballet, which became a holiday tradition. Then U.S. GI’s brought German nutcrackers home during WW2, spurring a wave of collecting. The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum features several antique nutcrackers.
Besides the popular Tin Soldier variety, the museum CEO, Arlene Wagner indicates several other nutcracker genre exists— including porcelain and silver nutcrackers–which often matched elegant Victorian table settings when fruit and nuts were served at the end of the meal and explains the adage: “from soup to nuts.”
Meanwhile…How can there be nutcrackers without visions of sugar plums. From Williams-Sonoma, this savory treat: a fragrant mixture of chopped dried fruit and spices, marinated in brandy with a dab of orange oil, and hand-rolled into the shape of a plum. The stem is fashioned from a whole clove, and a dusting of coconut finishes each piece. Created by Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner Brent Ridge, from Beekman 1802, a farmstead in upstate New York.
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