Sugar Plum Fairy: Fun Facts and Ideas This Holiday Season

For years The Nutcracker ballet and its timeless music had been associated with Christmas. “This is Christmas music,” my students told me after I played Tchaikovsky’s famous dances in one of my classes. Indeed, the holiday season’s excitement is unthinkable without the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy‘s music. But who is she? Why Sugar Plum Fairy? And what makes this music so magical?

The Sugar Plum Fairy was not in the original book by E. T. A. Hoffman. Neither did she appear in Alexander Duma’s adaptation of the book. She was created specifically for the ballet to showcase a famous ballet dancer, Antonietta Dell’Era, and to add a flare to the plot.

Sugar plums have nothing to do with plums. In fact, any type of confectionary that was round or oval used to be called “sugar plum”. I think it’s safe to believe that the Sugar Plum Fairy is a… candy fairy!

Have you ever wondered what makes the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy‘s music so magical? Tchaikovsky used a new (at that time) musical instrument, celesta, to create a bubbly, bell-like sound.

Bring the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Music Home.
  • Tell your kids about the Sugar Plum Fairy. Invite them to make or draw one as a candy fairy.
  • Tell your kids about celesta. Watch with them a short video (2 minutes!) The Nutcracker’s Celesta with Kelly Zuercher from Colorado Springs Philharmonic.
  • Invite them to listen and move with the music. Dance like a Sugar Plum Fairy? Use a pretend wand? Make some magic? Anything goes!
  • Check out my other ideas of bringing The Nutcracker music to your home in my other blog.

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