My German Nutcracker Collection
My German Nutcracker Collection
I have been collecting German nutcrackers for over fifteen years now and I absolutely love them. I used to live in eastern Pennsylvania, near Amish country, and there is a huge German community that has been living and working there for several generations. As most people do when they come to a new country to live, the Germans in that area brought with them all of their German traditions. This included wonderful German foods, German holiday traditions, and their handmade German crafts. My husband and I actually met in Germany when we were both stationed there in the military, so we really enjoyed eating authentic sausages at the German restaurants, celebrating Oktoberfest at the beer festivals, and shopping in the German shops back in our home in Pennsylvania.
This is when my love affair with the German nutcracker began. Whenever I strolled through the German shops I would be drawn to the German nutcracker display and would get lost in all the wonderful colors, designs, and styles of each unique German nutcracker. Of course, being young and newly married, I could never imagine spending our money on such an extravagance. So, I would just look at all the German nutcracker displays in the stores once a month or so and dreamt of maybe being able to own one some day when I had some extra cash. Of course, my husband knew how much I loved these little wooden soldiers with their funny furry hats and for our very first Christmas that year as a married couple, he bought me my very first German nutcracker. I could not believe it when I opened that package up and found my very own little blue German nutcracker soldier! He had a tall black hat, a long brown beard, and a wide grinning teeth-bearing mouth. I told my husband he sort of looked like him in his military uniform and he said jokingly that that was why he bought it for me. That was the start of what would become a lifelong passion for collecting precious German nutcrackers.
I think my husband must have thought that owning just one German nutcracker would be enough to satisfy my needs, but it simply served as a springboard for my desire to own a whole army of German nutcrackers. I decided that it would be okay to set aside a bit of money each week to save up enough to buy my next German nutcracker on my own. While I loved my blue German nutcracker soldier, I had my eye on a red drum major German nutcracker for quite some time and wanted to add him to my single piece collection next. It was reasonably priced, so I knew it would only take me about six months of saving just a few dollars a week to be able to afford it without any guilt or hardship to my pocketbook. I was working as a waitress at the time, so each week I would set aside a few dollars from my tips in a jar and dreamt of the day I could buy my next German nutcracker. When I finally had saved up enough money, I went to my favorite little German crafts shop in town and bought the second German nutcracker that would join my now growing collection. The little drum major had a bright red jacket, a golden baton, long white fur for hair, and my favorite part, a tall black hat made out of dark black fur. When I brought him home and set him next to my blue soldier, I knew that I was going to have to start saving my money again because where there is room for two, there is room for three!
After that, both my husband and I went to school and we got better jobs and eventually moved from Pennsylvania to California. Before the move, while I was still in school, I managed to save and buy four more German nutcrackers. My collection then consisted of a German nutcracker Santa in his red and white suit, a French policeman with a pointy black hat, a Hungarian Cavalry rider with a wide fur brimmed hat, and a miniature German nutcracker miner dressed in black and bright yellow. As I collected my precious German nutcrackers, I learned more and more about where they came from and what their significance was. I learned that all high quality handmade German nutcrackers come from the Erzgebirge mountains of Germany and that they were originally made to mock the tyrannical kings and oppressive leaders of the time in a sort of silent, ironic protest. Reducing these figures to the lowly task of cracking nuts with their mouths was apparently quite amusing to the Germans several hundred years ago, so they quickly became a popular and unique item to own. Knowing these little details made collecting German nutcrackers that much more interesting and fun.
Now that we had moved to California, I did not have the luxury of having a local German crafts store nearby to shop for my next German nutcracker. In California, they barely knew what a German sausage was, let alone a German nutcracker, so I began my search online. The internet was still in its early days at the time, but I did find a few online German stores that sold authentic Erzgebirge German nutcrackers, so I began ordering my newest additions from them. I have tried to limit myself to just two German nutcrackers each year, one for my birthday and one for Christmas, but sometimes I spoil myself and buy an extra one for good luck! My German nutcracker collection has grown to 29 now and I have added several kings, a few more Santas, an emperor, multiple soldiers, and even a chimney sweep. For my 30th German nutcracker, I want to make it a very special one, so I am going to splurge on a gorgeous King Ludwig, the most prized of all German nutcrackers. King Ludwig was famous for his eccentricities and the extravagant castles he built throughout Bavaria during the late 1800s. One was even the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland. As a result, King Ludwig German nutcrackers are just as extravagantly designed with lots of gold, precious gems, and luxurious fur-lined coats. I have got my eye on a beautiful blue one and I cannot wait to add it to my ever-increasing German nutcracker collection. However, where there is room for thirty, there is room for thirty-one!