Gold painted nuts are often to be see decorating German Christmas trees, because traditionally nuts are bound together with thoughts of nature and fertility, carrying 'the germ of life' and symbolic of the continuation of life, even though it is not possible to see beyond their hard shell. They were used for "die Wintersonnenwende", the winter solstice celebrations in pre-Christian Europe, and were carried over into Christmas traditions.
But nuts also make great cookies, and here are two authentic and traditional recipes:
German Nut Cookie Recipes
The photo is of a tree ornament styled after a traditional German "Erzgebrige Nutcracker". And yes they really can crack nuts.
Edited by Francine - German Culture (12/22/12 06:12 AM)
Francine McKenna-Klein - German Culture Editor German Culture Site
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Avatar: HOHENZOLLERNBRUECKE Cologne with CATHEDRAL and LUDWIG MUSEUM. The Bridge a symbol of how Germany was rebuilt after WWII, it was left in ruins, the Cathedral with roots in the 13th century represents the country's history, Museum of Modern Art the present day.