Christmas Pickle: A Quirky Christmas Tradition

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The Christmas Pickle, also known as “Weihnachtsgurke,” is an intriguing Christmas tradition that involves hiding a pickle ornament within the branches of the Christmas tree.

The first child to find the pickle on Christmas morning gets an extra present from Santa or is said to have good luck for the coming year.

The tradition is widely thought to be a German custom, but interestingly, most Germans are unfamiliar with it.

Origins of the Christmas Pickle

The “German” Myth

Many people believe the Christmas Pickle tradition originated in Germany due to its German name. However, the tradition is largely unknown in Germany.

In fact, when asked, most Germans would admit to never having heard of the Christmas Pickle. So, how did this misconception arise?

Some theorise it was a marketing ploy by ornament sellers in the late 19th century to promote glass ornaments imported from Germany, which often included various fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

christmas pickle on a christmas tree

Alternative Theories

There are several other theories surrounding the origin of the Christmas Pickle tradition. One story is about a Civil War soldier, Private John C. Lower, who was captured and held as a prisoner.

On Christmas Eve, he begged a guard for a pickle as he was starving. The guard gave him the pickle, which Lower credited for saving his life. After returning home, he began the tradition of hiding a pickle in his Christmas tree each year.

Another theory is that the tradition originates from a medieval tale about two Spanish boys who were trapped in a barrel of pickles by an evil innkeeper and were later rescued by St. Nicholas.

The Christmas Pickle Tradition Today

The Christmas Pickle tradition has gained popularity, particularly in the United States. Many families purchase special glass pickle ornaments to hide in their Christmas trees.

In some families, the child who finds the pickle gets an extra present. In others, they’ll be granted good luck for the following year.

There are even towns that celebrate the Christmas Pickle, such as Berrien Springs, Michigan, which was once known as the Christmas Pickle Capital of the World and held a yearly Christmas Pickle Festival.

Christmas Pickle Ornaments

Many stores offer special Christmas Pickle ornaments, which are typically made from glass and painted a vibrant green to emulate a real pickle.

christmas pickle ornament

They can vary in size but are generally small enough to provide a good hiding challenge within the Christmas tree.

These ornaments often come with a card explaining the tradition of the Christmas Pickle, making them a fun and unique gift, especially for those who love quirky traditions.

The Quirky Tradition of the Christmas Pickle

Whether or not the Christmas Pickle is based on a true German tradition or a marketing scheme, it has found a home in many Christmas celebrations around the world.

This quirky tradition brings an added element of fun and excitement to the holiday season, making the discovery of the hidden pickle a memorable event in many family gatherings.

Read more interesting Christmas traditions and customs