Should You Use Your German Nutcracker to Actually Crack Hard-shell Nuts? The Answer is Surprising.
The warnings may actually be on the box that your nutcracker came in ‘Should not be used to crack nuts.’ It’s puzzling that a tool used to crack hard-shell nuts should never actually touch a nut. But look closely at your decorative nutcracker, is it, in fact, an authentic ? That could make all the difference.
“Authentic German nutcrackers are made of heartier stuff than the nutcrackers you may find at department stores and Christmas markets.”
They have decades of skilled craftsmanship and years of tradition behind each hand-carved smile. But still, should you use such a priceless— and in many cases— pricey family heirloom to crack nuts?
History of the German Nutcracker
“For centuries that was the exact task of German nutcrackers. They were made to crack hard-shelled nuts around the holidays.” German folklore is rich with tales of the famed Nutcracker. They are historically given as keepsakes that would protect a family and bring good luck to a home. Often times they were seen as protectors, which is why many are in the sentry style to this day. The traditional design even bares teeth like a watchdog protecting the family home.
After years of standing guard, the German nutcracker became celebrated in the arts. The celebration of nutcrackers by artists began with the novel “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” written by E.T. Amadeus Hoffman in the 18th century. From here launched hundreds of tributes, none more famous that Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite.” The ballet debuted in St. Petersburg in 1892 and continues as a holiday tradition throughout the world. Deutsche Way () publishes great info about German crafts.
“But nutcrackers weren’t always seen as so ‘delicate.’” They began existence with a purpose.
They represent the ‘Cycle of Life.’ Once a nut is cracked and its seed falls to the ground, there can grow a tree. That tree can produce nuts of its own, along with wood for houses and woodcutters in the German region. A single tree can live hundreds of years and nourish thousands of lives. There are German legends celebrate a feast during Elder tree harvesting. Elder trees were the place where nuts were eaten as if to pass on the mystery and wonder of the cycle of life. German nutcrackers were the tool used by many to keep this tradition alive.
German nutcrackers also reflect old-world dining customs where unusual tools were part of the feast and social gathering. They often served as a conversation piece as guests lingered after dinner to enjoy a few holiday nuts by the fire. They were used as a tool—and a decoration.
Look for Authenticity
The truth is that today many nutcrackers are not hand-made in the traditional style. They are made for the mantel piece and not to actually crack nuts. However, quality German nutcrackers are still up to the task.
The craftsmanship of a German nutcracker is beyond compare. They are still handcrafted, hand painted and hand tested to be a quality tool in addition to a decorative item.
The answer is clear, your German nutcracker can crack nuts—but owners of the other types should be wary before popping a nut in your expensive nutcracker. Visit if you’re looking to buy a real German nutcracker.