Traveler’s Advent Calendar: The Nutcracker

If we were asked to make a list of typical Christmas characters, it’s more than likely that we won’t put him among the first, but The Nutcracker won’t be absent, even if we don’t know very well where he comes from.

Tall, bright and very colourful, this little wooden soldier became one of the most popular Christmas characters, especially in Europe and Russia. And today the door of our Traveling Advent Calendar will take us back to its origins.

His simple presence announces that the holidays are near and that it is time to get ready for the gifts.

Primer plano de la cara de El Cascanueces.

But did you wonder or do you know where this characteristic character comes from?

I’m pretty sure like me, you know the Russian ballet and its costumes full of brightness and color. But in our Travelling Advent Calendar we will not go back to Russia, but to Germany, more precisely we will go to Berlin to know the origins of our dear little soldier.

The Nutcracker’s Story

On December 24th the Stahlbaum family, children, neighbours and little Clara celebrated Christmas Eve.

While the farmer and his family talk to neighbors and friends by the fireplace, the pequeños play with the toys brought to them by Clara’s godfather, Mr. Drosselmeyer. They see how a harlequin, a dancing doll and a polar bear appear successively.

But what Clara did not expect was for her godfather to give her a large nutcracker in the form of a soldier.

Everyone went to sleep except for the girl who in the middle of the night saw, between dreams, how the toys came to life.

Her dream led her to be attacked by the King of Mice (her brother’s toy) and his gang of rodents. In the middle of the attack the nutcracker came to rescue her and faced the fierce enemy.

The rodents were winning by force and number until Clara came into action and from a sneaker drove away the evil king. At that moment the Nutcracker takes advantage to scare the others and win the battle.

Obra teatarl de El Cascanueces.

And while we’re at it, I’ll tell you the end:

Once the battle was over the Nutcracker became a beautiful prince (remember we are in the early 1800s) and took her to a realm of magic where they met the king and queen of snow.

The origin of history

You might wonder, like me, why Russia appears in our heads every time we see a nutcracker.

The answer is simple, the original author of the work was called Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann and was born in ancient Prussia, now part of Russia, Poland and Germany.

The author moved from Königsberg (capital of East Prussia) to Berlin where he wrote the Christmas play.

Pequeño muño de El Cascanueces.

It is for this reason that our door today in the Traveller’s Advent Calendar will take us to Berlin, a city that partly influenced Hoffmann’s book.

Years later the story would be rewritten by Alejandro Dumas under the name of The Nutcracker’s Story. Finally in 1892 a Russian composer named Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky opened the doors for the famous ballet.

What to do in Berlin at Christmas time

In The Travel Blog we have written several post about Berlin because it is a city that attracts us for its modernity and cosmopolitan spirit.

We will tell you how to visit Berlin on a weekend or our advice to visit museums in Berlin.

But today I want to go a little further and recommend XX things to see or do in Berlin at Christmas.

Visitar la puerta de Brandemburgo

The famous flea markets

The world of Berlin’s Christmas markets is so famous and so recommended that I didn’t want to overlook this recommendation. There are so many and so varied that there are so many websites and even mobile phone applications so that you can find the one that is closest to you if you are in the city.

The Weihnachtsmärkte are famous all over Germany. Every city or small town in the country has at least one, but those in the capital attract travelers from all over the world.

You can see a little more on the official Berlin Tourism website.

Go up to the TV tower.

If you like the lights at Christmas, if the streets seem romantic to you and you melt with every flicker of light, imagine seeing them from above.

A good option is to climb the Berlin TV Tower to see the city in all its splendor.

My advice is that you reserve time in your schedule to do it in the evening because you will have the best views, the blue sky and the lights that start to turn on. Your Instagram will light up.

Have a Glühwein

Glühwein is a hot drink made from red wine and typical winter spices, usually consisting of cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel and star anise.

In order for it to have such a classic and attractive taste, it is boiled together with sugar and spices. The markets and many bars serve it throughout December.

Go skate

I personally tend to stay away from skating rinks because the least my skates do is touch the ice. I fall, get some bruises and I get a little cold.

But if your thing is risk or you slide like a penguin in Antarctica you should go skateboarding.

And I’m telling you this because in Berlin you’ll find, at least this Christmas, six ice skating rinks ranging from some small to others that have up to 400 meters.

Among its main features is that you can rent there equipment in place and have a ring shape so you never stop.

Lights in the Botanical Garden

I recently discovered that in many parts of the world, Botanical Gardens celebrate Christmas in a special way: with thousands, thousands of lights.

Berlin is one of those cities where its Botanical attracts many looks, both local and travelers.

Your staff not only take care of the trees and plants, they create incredible decorations with lights ranging from light curtains, hallways full of light bulbs and even castles like holograms.

If you want to know more you can visit the website of the Berlin Botanical Garden.