The Krampus Kalendar: N is for NUTCRACKER

Saturday 14 December 2019

At Christmas time it is not uncommon for many families to attend the only ballet they will see all year. The name of that ballet? The Nutcracker. But how did a ballet about a mechanical device for cracking nuts become such a popular festive tradition?

The story itself upon which the ballet it based – The Nutcracker and the King of Mice, by E. T. A. Hoffman – is older than the version we see portrayed on stage, which is actually an adaptation by the French author Alexandre Dumas, better known for penning such classic novels as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

The Nutcracker was actually Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s final and least satisfying ballet, after he took on the project with a marked lack of enthusiasm. It is ironic then that it is The Nutcracker that has become one of the most beloved Christmas traditions of the modern age.

The Nutcracker premiered in Tchaikovsky’s native Russia in 1892, but it wasn't until 1944 that an American ballet company decided to perform the entire thing. That year, the San Francisco Ballet took on the task, from then on performing The Nutcracker as an annual tradition.

But it was really George Balanchine who set The Nutcracker on the path to popular fame. In 1954 he choreographed the ballet for a New York company, and not a year has passed since when the ballet has not been performed in New York City.

You may encounter an animated Nutcracker in 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas, and possibly in 'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas as well.


To find out more about the festive season and its many traditions, order your copy of the Chrismologist's Christmas Explained: Robins, Kings and Brussel Sprouts today!

The book is also available in the United States as Christmas Miscellany: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Christmas.



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