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Stephanie’s Love Of Nutcrackers

Grandson picking his Nutcracker
Picking out a nutcracker

Nutcrackers & Behnke’s

Nutcrackers! The word brings up memories of the many Christmases when Behnke Nurseries opened their Christmas Shop.


Back when my mother, Sonja Behnke Festerling, started Behnke Nurseries Christmas shop in the late 1960’s she always ensured we had a few of these beautiful nutcrackers. As the years passed and the Christmas shop grew, my Aunt, Ele Behnke, started taking over more and more of the responsibilities and ended up making it one of the only Christmas Shops of its kind in the area.


One thing was consistent, however, the nutcrackers! We carried the famous German Steinbach Nutcrackers along with the Christian Ulbricht Nutcrackers and many others. There were always so many to choose from, and they were ALL handmade in Germany. So no matter what you liked, there would be a nutcracker.

Family Tradition Begins

In 1979, my family tradition began when, as a new bride, I got my husband our first of many nutcrackers. Each year we would place them around our home. Our first home did not have a fireplace, so they had the honor of being placed on bookshelves and tabletops. When we built our forever home in 1985, I mainly wanted a fireplace with a mantel for our nutcrackers!


Soon, however, those nutcrackers were not just on the fireplace but ALL OVER our home. It got to the point we were overrun. Our tradition changed about ten years ago with the birth of our first grandchild. Why wait till we were gone, I said. Let’s let the kids pick a nutcracker for their own homes. That has evolved into now the grandchildren are picking them out, and we are just about out.


Shop Online For Your Nutcracker

Now with Beyond Behnke’s online gift shop, I have started selling the Christian Ulbricht Nutcrackers. This means I have also begun replacing some of our diminishing collections. I display them year-round in a glass cupboard that lights up. And even better, I have picked a few I can place on our fireplace mantel each month.


For Fall, I have the beautiful Autumn King, and I think I will be putting up the Gingerbread King for November. Then, of course, Santa will be for December, and my old Jack Frost will have the honor of January. February will be my new King Of Hearts, and at that point, I will have to find a new St. Patrick’s Day Nutcracker as my grandson, born on St. Patrick’s Day, got that one. But that is what is fun about collecting. I bet they have an Easter Bunny one!!


You might ask why Stephanie is talking about Christmas traditions and nutcrackers in October. It is because it is never too early to start planning your Christmas shopping. And there are only nine more weeks till Christmas! Just sayin’ #ilovechristmas


What family traditions do you have?

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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