Word for Wednesday: Nutcracker

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Our Word for Wednesday theme for December is Christmas decorations.

A decoration is something that is used to beautify a space. The word comes from the Latin ‘decorare’. 

Our first Christmas decoration of the month is the nutcracker

A nutcracker is a device that is used to crack nuts open. Some traditional versions of this tool are shaped like a human figure with a space for the nut where the mouth would be. Such devices have come to be associated with Christmas thanks to The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffman, which was famously scored as a ballet by the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

In the ballet, a little girl is given a figure-shaped nutcracker for Christmas. At midnight, the nutcracker comes alive and – after a battle between an army of mice and an army of toys – transforms into a prince. The prince takes the girl on an adventure to the Land of Sweets where they meet the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The word nutcracker dates to the 1540s. Nut comes from the Middle English ‘note’, from the Old English ‘hnutu’. Crack comes from the Old English ‘cracian’. 

Have you read our other Christmassy Word for Wednesday posts?

01 Dec 2021
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