Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chinese Nutcrackers Threaten Germany's Christmas Tradition

Low-cost imports of nutcrackers pose a risk to the age-old woodcraft of eastern Germany's Erzgebirge region, famous for its Christmas ornaments. The Chinese-made replicas may increasingly look like the real thing -- but don't try cracking a nut with them, warns Germany's chief woodcarver.

The German nutcracker -- the bearded, wood-carved soldier who stands to attention in households around the world at Christmas waiting to bite the shells off walnuts -- faces growing competition from cheap Chinese copies that are threatening eastern Germany's centuries-old woodcraft tradition, the industry's leader has warned.

The nutcracker was invented in the Erzgebirge or Ore Mountains, a range of hills along Germany's border with the Czech Republic, in the 19th century. Tucked in the wooded valleys of this sparsely populated, scenic region, craftsmen and women assemble ornaments under the Erzgebirge brand name that has become synonymous with German Christmas.

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