The Christmas Pickle
The tradition of the Christmas Pickle has got to be one of the strangest modern Christmas customs I’ve ever heard of.
The Christmas pickle is a Christmas tradition in which an ornamental pickle is placed on a Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, the first child to find the pickle on the tree would receive an extra present from Santa Claus. This child would be said to have a year of good fortune.
Americans believe this tradition comes from Germany and is referred to as a Weihnachtsgurke. In fact, the tradition is completely unknown in Germany.
It has been suggested that the origin of the Christmas pickle may have been developed for marketing purposes in the 1890s to coincide with the importation of glass Christmas ornaments from Germany. Woolworths was the first company to import these types of decorations into the United States in 1890. Despite the evidence showing that the tradition did not originate in Germany, the concept of Christmas pickles has since been imported from the United States and they are now on sale worldwide.
Another suggested origin has been that the tradition came from Camp Sumter during the American Civil War. The Bavarian-born Private John C. Lower had enlisted in the 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry, but was captured in April 1864 and taken to the prison camp. As the story is told, on Christmas Eve he begged a guard for a pickle while starving. The guard provided the pickle, which 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.
An additional origin which comes from Berrien Springs is a Victorian era tale of St. Nicholas saving two Spanish children who were trapped in a barrel of pickles by an innkeeper.
No matter where this tradition originated from, it is sure to put a smile on many faces. So, who will find the pickle this year?
If you’d like to purchase your very own pickle ornament, you can do so here.