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Top 10 Traditional Holiday Decor Items (and Where they Came From)

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Nutcrackers

The nutcracker serves a dual purpose: useful holiday tool and fun decoration!
The nutcracker serves a dual purpose: useful holiday tool and fun decoration!
Comstock/Thinkstock

A simple tool, or perhaps an amusing toy (until someone sticks a finger in the wrong place), the nutcracker has become a treasured symbol of Christmas celebration. But this common piece of holiday d├ęcor has a fairly recent connection to the season.

German carpenter Wilhelm Fuchtner produced the first toy-soldier-shaped nutcrackers in 1872. But it wasn't until 1892, when Tchaikovsky's famous ballet about a Christmas-present nutcracker come to life premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia, that the decorative culinary tool became a part of holiday lore. While the plot centers mostly on the magic of the Christmas holiday, the nutcracker's starring role has made it a must-have decoration for the holiday season.

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