When you think of ballet and the holidays, the first thing that pops into your mind is probably The Nutcracker.

The Nutcracker is known around the world as being the classic fairy-tale ballet about a young girl who receives a magical nutcracker. For many families, watching The Nutcracker this time of year has become an annual tradition. But, there are a few facts that most people don’t know...

  1. The Nutcracker is based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffman called “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”. The original story is much darker than the ballet we all love, featuring a bloody battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King’s army.

  2. The story was written in 1816… Whoa, that’s over 200 years ago!

  3. You know the catchy instrumental music that makes you want to twirl around in your tutu? It was composed by Peter Tchaikovsky, who also composed the music for Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.

  4. In Germany, nutcrackers are believed to bring good luck and are often given to children as Christmas presents.

  5. The New York Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker uses about 500 pounds of paper confetti to create the snowstorm, 150 different costumes, 7 layers of tulle for the Sugar Plum Fairy’s tutu, 500 bobby pins, and 144 jingle bells for each Candy Cane costume!

  6. Marichen, Maria, Masha, Clara… The name of the young girl who saves the nutcracker prince has changed many times! In the original story, she is named Maria or Marie, while Clara is the name of one of her dolls. In Germany, she sometimes goes by Marichen. In Russia, she was given the name Masha.

  7. Hollywood is even getting in on the action, having just released the movie The Nutcracker and the Four Realms by Disney. The film stars Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, and Morgan Freeman… just to name a few! Rumor has it that there's a blissful bit of choreography, featuring dance star Misty Copeland.