Did you have any idea that there was such a thing as a Christmas Pickle?
In fact, while researching topics to write about for my History of Christmas series, I ran across this and sent a picture to my brother-in-law. I figured that he would be the perfect person to ask since he loves pickles and he loves Christmas. Well, he informed me that he not only knew about them, but every year, he puts the ornament on his Christmas tree.
I've been to his house on Christmas and never noticed, and if I did, then I don't remember.
As odd as that story is for me, the history of this holiday pickle is much more unique.
Christmas Pickle History
The Christmas pickle originated in Germany, but it did not have its own tradition. Germany imported a large number of glass ornaments to the United States department store Woolworth. The glass ornaments were of many different fruits and vegetables, and the pickle happened to be one of those selections.
At around this same time, there was a story that emerged that said a Christmas pickle was an old German tradition. According to the tradition, the pickle would be the last thing hung on the tree, and whoever found the decoration first would receive an extra present.
That is what was said, at least, but this was not true at all. If you were to ask a German parent which one of their children found the Christmas pickle last year, they would probably give you that cocked dog-head stare of confusion because this is not a Christmas tradition in Germany
However this tradition still occurs throughout America today, but the tradition most likely started here under the false story it began in Germany.
According to Why Christmas, there are two other stories that tie the pickle to Christmas:
One features a fighter in the American Civil War who was born in Bavaria (an area of what is now Germany). He was a prisoner and starving. He begged a guard for one last pickle before he died. The guard took pity on him and gave a pickle to him. The pickle gave him the mental and physical strength to live on!
The other story is linked to St. Nicholas. It's a medieval tale of two Spanish boys traveling home from a boarding school for the holidays. When they stopped at an inn for the night, the evil innkeeper killed the boys and put them in a pickle barrel. That evening, St. Nicholas stopped at the same inn, and found the boys in the barrel, and miraculously brought them back to life!
While all of these stories are fascinating, none of them point to a clear origin of the Christmas pickle. It seems to be a sales marketing ploy that was just picked up through the years and eventually became a staple.
As much as my family loved Christmas, I have to say that I am surprised we never heard of this one, but this year will be the first time in my family's history that the Christmas Pickle will make an appearance and will become a fun Christmas tradition for years to come.