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Sugar plums and the nutcracker

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The performance of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker is a holiday tradition in many communities. The Sugar Plum fairy is a major character who comes to life in the children's dreams. Your children might wonder about sugar plums because they have also read about them in "The Night Before Christmas". This holiday season is a great time to learn a little history of the sugar plum before you attend a performance of The Nutcracker. Your children will enjoy learning about this sweet treat before they see the Sugar Plum fairy come to life.

Sugar plums were first mentioned in 1608. In the 17th and 18th centuries sugar plums were referred to as comfits. Comfits are small items that are used as a base for a sugary candy. Seeds and nuts were the most common comfits. Sugar plums are not plums, but concoctions of dried fruit and nuts. The recipes for sugar plums in the 17th century were very lengthy and labor intensive. There could be as many as 12 layers of ingredients. The sugar plums could take several days to complete. By the 1860's candy makers were using steam heat and mechanized rotating pans to decrease the cooking time. There is a plethora of recipes for sugar plums today. Some do not require cooking.

The Diane Partington School of Classical Ballet in Sarasota will present its performance of The Nutcracker on December 22 at 1:30 p.m. This is the longest running performance of The Nutcracker at the Sarasota Opera House. Tickets are $28 for adults and $16 for ages 12 and under. The Sarasota Opera House is located at 61 N. Pineapple ave. in Sarasota. You may call 941-328-1300 for seating information or log on at www.sarasotaopera.org.

Treat your children to a living Sugar Plum with the performance of the Sugar Plum fairy in The Nutcracker, and they will relate the sugar plum Christmas treat to today's designation as everything sweet and lovely.

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