You know it’s winter when you see houses decorated with colorful, wooden soldiers and advertisements for The Nutcracker ballet on TVs and billboards. But did you know that nutcrackers have been around for more than 2,000 years? The earliest nutcrackers were made of two pieces of wood fastened together and used to crack hard-shelled nuts like walnuts and chestnuts.
They didn’t get their signature look until the 17th century. That’s when German artisans started carving little soldiers, which were symbols of good luck and given as gifts. But nutcrackers didn’t become popular worldwide until a 1954 performance of The Nutcracker ballet in New York City became a hit. People started giving them as gifts, and the holiday nutcracker took off!