The Christmas Pickle: A Tradition

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Every family has their own traditions and one that I love in our family is that of the Christmas Pickle.


We adopted it about ten years ago now when we discovered it on an American website.  The basic concept is that a decoration in the shape of a pickle is hidden on the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and whoever finds it first on Christmas morning receives good fortune for the following year and a little gift (usually a board game for the family to enjoy together that evening).


Because the pickle is a dark green colour it’s very hard to see in amongst the rest of the decorations and so the game usually takes anything from 5 to 10 mins to play and it a lot of fun.


There is always a tussle and a lot of laughter! It’s a fun tradition to have. I tried to research the origins of the tradition, because I was told it was German.  I have German heritage when I spoke to family members they had no idea about this at all.


Turns out it’s one of those traditions that no one really knows the origins of!  There are a few theories –

One being that in the late 1880’s a store in America started importing ornaments from Germany and they consisted of many shapes of fruits and vegetables.  A salesman probably over ordered the pickle ornaments and made up the tradition in order to sell more of them.


Alternatively, there is a tale told about St Nicholas whereby he rescued two young Spanish boys when he was out delivering gifts to children.  The story goes that the boys were travelling home from boarding school for the Christmas period.  They stopped off at an Inn and the Inn Keeper killed them both and put their bodies in a pickle barrel. St Nick found them when he stopped at the same Inn that night, and brought them both back to life.


The third story is that it is a tradition called Weihnachtsgurke. A German born solider called John Lower, who fought in the American Civil War,  wrote home to his family telling them of his capture in a prisoner of war camp. He begged a guard for a pickle when he was starving. The guard gave him the pickle, which John Lower later credited for saving his life. After returning to his family, he began a tradition of hiding a pickle on their Christmas tree each year.

In America now over 50,000 pickles are sold each year!

If you’re in the UK you can buy Pickles for your tree here >> The Christmas Pickle



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