Yesterday I shared pictures of London’s festive wreaths. Today I have photos of another quirky Christmas decoration. Isn’t it odd that a festival of joy, peace, light and family should have a tradition of using toy soldiers as decorations?
We can blame Ernst Hoffmann for writing a novella called “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” in 1816, which inspired a ballet first performed in 1892, with music composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Both the novella and the ballet are set at Christmas. They tell the story of a nutcracker shaped like a soldier coming to life and taking a child on an adventure. In displaying the large-scale soldiers in these photos as Christmas decorations, Claridges Hotel is tapping into the romance and excitement of the ballet, and the idea that staying in a Mayfair hotel could be a magical adventure.
The same idea has occurred to the people who run the Langham Hotel. This soldier is standing guard outside the Palm Court restaurant.
If you want to see a more British style of toy soldier, go to the Burberry clothes shops on Regent Street or Bond Street. The Guards have put down their guns and picked up scarves.
If you’re interested in the Nutcracker ballet, click on this link to read more on my friend Fran Pickering’s blog “Sequins and Cherry Blossom”: the Festive Season starts with The Nutcracker.
And for more on the background to nutcrackers as a kitchen tool, or a collectable, or a Christmas decoration, click here for an interesting article on Slate.com.