Italian Word of the Day: Schiaccianoci (nutcracker)

One of the most recognisable symbols of Christmas is the nutcracker, known as a schiaccianoci in Italian.

/schiac·cia·nó·ci/ – [skjattʃaˈnotʃi]
Italian word 'schiaccianoci"

Schiaccianoci is made up of two parts: the verb schiacciare (to crush) and the plural noun noci (walnuts). It is an invariable masculine noun, which means its form does not change in the plural.

  • lo schiaccianoci = the nutcracker
  • gli schiaccianoci = the nutcrackers
  • uno schiaccianoci = a nutcracker
  • degli schiaccianoci = (some) nutcrackers

The classic standing wooden soldier nutcracker (soldatino schiaccianoci) originated in the Sonneberg and Ezerberge regions of eastern Germany during the early 19th century. The commercial production of these wooden nutcrackers began in 1872 with Wilhelm Fuchtner.

Traditional holiday nutcracker standing in front of decorated Christmas tree

While the primary purpose of these objects was initially to crack nuts using the soldier’s lower jaw, they have evolved into widely embraced decorative ornaments in households worldwide, including Italy.

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