"According to German folklore, nutcrackers were given as keepsakes to bring good luck to your family and protect your home. The legend says that a nutcracker represents power and strength and serves like a trusty watch dog guarding your family from evil spirits and danger. A fierce protector, the nutcracker bares its teeth to the evil spirits and serves as the traditional messenger of good luck and goodwill."
The Nutcracker is a beloved Christmas tradition the world over but most certainly in the United States where the ballet is performed yearly around the country.
The Nutcracker ballet was based on a story called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King written by Alexander Dumas in the late 1800s. Tchikovsky composed the music with strict guidelines from the choreographer Marius Petipa, which included exactly the number of bars in a set and the tempo. Understandably, Tchaikovsky was not fond of working under such tight constraints and the music almost did not get written. I, for one, am so glad that it did because that music is some of the most recognizable and enduring of all time.
I can still hear the crackle and pop from the stereo as the 33 LP record played. My father would put those records on through the Christmas Eve night. I loved getting lost in the story that was told through the music.
My favorite of all scenes are the ones with the dances from the different countries called the Character Dances in the second act. The way the music captures the cultural identity of these countries has always entranced me. The music that I long most to hear are the somber tones of the Arabian/Coffee Dance. I would lose myself in a sort of trance during that music only to be reawakened by the lively notes of the Chinese/Tea dance. The Russian/Trepak Dance is stirring and the Waltz of the Flowers is so very ethereal.
But the pas de deux (literally 'steps of two') by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier is so amazing. To see it performed live on stage is quite a sight. I didn't get the chance this year to see it, but I would really like to make that part of my holiday tradition. Maybe I can still find a televised version of it.
In deciding on an ornament to offer my dear partner Alice Peterson for this hop, I decided that the Nutcracker would be perfect so I made one in my 'simple truths' style. It is an easily recognizable symbol of the holiday and often evokes very happy memories through the ballet or the story or the music. It is a very traditional decoration that I hope will bring protection and strength to Alice's family and envelope them in a mantle of peace and goodwill for the coming year and every year they hang it on their tree. I added a pretty red ribbon for hanging and embellished it with a little beaded cluster of holly leaves and berries. If she wants she can even remove the ribbon and put it on a chain to wear it for Christmas.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. Please go and check out the rest of the participants of the Ornament Blog Hop on Sally Russick's WireWorked blog.