You see these fun festive beauties all the time during the Christmas period, usually in TV adverts and on people’s dining tables. But, have you ever stopped to wonder what the heck these things actually are? More to the point, how did they ever become associated with Christmas!?

Despite a rather painful-sounding name, nutcrackers have become highly popular in homes up and down the country. The question is, where did they come from, what are they used for, and how can you add them to your festive scene?

Let’s dive straight in and see what they’re all about!

What are nutcrackers?

Funnily enough, nutcrackers aren’t actually used for cracking nuts. Well, that’s a lie…they are – or were – but not anymore!

The tradition of nutcrackers at Christmas stems from German folklore, where families were given nutcrackers to keep the family safe. They were there to protect your family and watch over evil spirits. That’s right, something like this Royal Soldier nutcracker could keep all the bad things away and protect your family. 

However, these nutcrackers originated from traditional nutcrackers that were genuinely used to crack nuts. These days, we use boring metal plier-type things, but many years ago customized nutcrackers were used to lighten the mood at dinner. People would find them fun, so much so that they just morphed into figurines that no longer possessed the ability to crack nuts!

Where does the design come from?

If you look at some of the amazing nutcrackers on our site, you’ll spot there are some pretty different designs. From this Nutcracker Candy Guard to this Nutcracker Chocolate figure, the styles are entirely different, yet one similar thing remains…

Yes, despite having different colors or themes, all nutcrackers resemble toy soldiers in one way or another. It wasn’t always like this – many of the first nutcrackers were animals or standard people. However, German puppeteers established the soldier design in the 1600s as they believed it gave good luck. Not only that, but it solidified the idea of protection!

How did nutcrackers become popular at Christmas?

While the Germans were happily playing with nutcrackers at Christmas for many years, they didn’t truly become popular until 1892. 

Oddly specific, right?

Well, those of you with a keen knowledge of ballet will know this is when The Nutcracker Suite debuted for the first time. Nowadays, you will see versions of this ballet in theaters or on TV throughout the festive period. This all stemmed from the first performance at Christmas centuries ago, which popularized the Christmas nutcracker. From then on, people all over the world have been going crazy for them!

How do you use nutcrackers around the home at Christmas?

You now know what nutcrackers are and where they came from, but how do you add them to your home at Christmas? 

Like any great Christmas decoration, you can use nutcrackers in a variety of ways:

  • As part of an external display – Are you one of those households that goes all out over the festive period and has lights and a display outside your home? Great, we love people like you! With something like this Life Size Christmas Nutcracker, you can add a traditional touch to your external display. Place it outside your home and it’ll light up and help spread the festive cheer!
  • As a standard Christmas ornament – You always get the ornaments out at Christmas, including snow globes, those weird candle things, and much more. Adding a nutcracker to your collection can be a fantastic idea. Something like this Gingerbread Cook Christmas Nutcracker would look perfect on a shelf, by the floor of your fireplace, or next to your Christmas tree. 
  • As a table decoration – Of course, you can go down the traditional route and place nutcrackers on your table for Christmas dinner. It’s always good to set a nice table scene, and our Royal Drummer Nutcracker can be the perfect addition to your festive table setting. 

At the end of the day, you can pretty much use nutcrackers however you like. It depends on how much of a statement you want to make. The great thing about the options on our site is that we have nutcrackers in a whole range of sizes. There are plenty of life-size models that look ideal outdoors – or can be used to really up the festive spirit indoors! Then, we have smaller ones that are between 30-45cm, which are perfect to be used as ornaments around the home.

You can start getting ready for the festive season at St Nicholas Christmas Cave. Feel free to browse through our nutcracker offerings, ordering any products that float your boat!