The Nutcracker

A lot of retail workers avoid everything Christmas related, simply because we’re inundated for a month between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. And while sometimes I do get fed up with the chaos of the season, I do enjoy Christmas when I’m not at work. And that means squeezing in one or two holiday books toward the end of the year.

I’ve seen the Nutcracker play once or twice, but I never really knew its origins until I snagged a copy to read.

The story was first written by Ernst Hoffman, but it didn’t gain a lot of traction until Alexandre Dumas adapted the story to appeal more to children. It later attracted the attention of the Russian theater and became the story we all know and, mostly, love.

In the book, Mary and Fritz are eagerly anticipating Christmas and their new, elaborate gifts from Godfather Drosselmayer. One gift, given them to share, is an ugly Nutcracker, which Mary takes an unusual liking to. She stays up late tucking her dolls and the Nutcracker in for the night, and finds herself suddenly in the middle of battle between the toys and the rats. From there, Mary starts to learn the history of her Nutcracker, and the war. Mary is the key to winning and breaking the curse put on the Nutcracker.

All in all, the story captured by the ballet is the full story, though it maybe a little more fleshed out in the book (and I’m not sure why the girl’s name is changed to Clara, because Clara is just a snooty doll…). But it’s a fun, quick little read to get you into the holiday spirit. And even though it will probably never be relevant to life, I’m glad to know the origins of the story and ballet.

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