Christmas Nutcrackers or Tin Soldiers are decorative ornamental figurines that hold traditions from 17th century German folklore. Originally created as nutcracker dolls, they were protectors of the house. The original nutcracker dolls were symbols of good luck which would scare away evil spirits. People of the day saw them as a symbol of strength and power.


From beginnings as functional nutcrackers made from ore, tin soldiers grew in popularity as gifts around the 19th century. As fun conversational pieces during the desert course, unusual novelty nutcrackers would be brought out as diners enjoyed their ancestral dining customs of pecans and hazelnuts. Now, Christmas Nutcrackers resemble toy soldiers and have become popular in Christmas decorations as ornament displays.

In the early days of the tin soldier’s life story, nutcracker dolls consisted of sixty different pieces and although they originally resembled toy soldiers, assorted styles proliferated. In the early 19th century, designs included miners, police officers, royalty, and military soldiers. More recently, designs include Queen Elizabeth the II, US president Benjamin Franklin, Elvis, and cultural themes like Italian and French nutcrackers.

The popularity as a decorative Christmas ornament grew because of the bright, festive colours used to paint them. In 1892, the fame of toy soldier nutcrackers exploded when they were featured in the ballet adaptation of the 1816 story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” composed by Tchaikovsky. The ballet performance known simply as “The Nutcracker”, featured a toy soldier nutcracker and was a hit with American audiences. Attending this ballet performance became a favourite holiday tradition for people of the U.S.

During their time in Europe for WWII, American soldiers found the traditional nutcracker dolls while stationed in Germany and purchased as souvenirs. The German nutcracker dolls resembled the toy soldier nutcrackers in Tchaikovsky’s ballet piece. It was around this time that nutcrackers and tin soldiers grew worldwide to became what now we consider a decoration synonymous with Christmas.


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