Day 13 of Christmas Nightlight Readings: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
As it has been so cold outside these last few days, I am often reminded of one of my favorite Nutcracker suits, "Waltz of the Snowflakes." (Still waiting on our first winter snow.) The story was written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816. Most of us either see The Nutcracker ballet around the holiday season or are familiar with it. We all know the story of Marie who is gifted a Nutcracker doll by her godfather, a clockmaker. However, the nutcracker isn't just any doll, for as midnight falls the Nutcracker comes to life, fights the evil mouse king, and sweeps Marie off to a magical land of sugar plums and snowflakes.
The earliest version of the wooden doll nutcrackers can be traced to the woodcarving towns of 17th century Germany, next to wood toys. As Germans immigrated, so did these nutcrackers. They did not specifically become part of the Christmas holiday, although they were often given as gifts, but they did become a common winter commodity as nuts were often harvested after the first frost. I don't know about you, but nut varieties and nutcrackers seemed to be a Christmas staple in our house growing up—Santa always left nuts and handpicked nectarines in my stocking.
So as the night drops into the low 20s (unfortunately with no snow in sight), I leave you with this favorite Nutcracker performance:
“To study history is to study the motives, the opinions, and the passions of men in order to know all the successes, the initiatives and the detours, and finally all the illusions that they make known to the mind and the surprises that they make the heart feel. In a word, it is to learn to known oneself in others.”—Jean Mabillon, 15th c. Benedictine scholar.