A Brief History
For starters, if you have never heard of the Christmas Pickle, do not feel bad! The author herself only learned of the Christmas Pickle two years ago while she was living in Germany and was being visited by a fellow American who brought up the topic. The friend hung a pickle-shaped ornament on her Christmas tree every year, and since she believed the tradition came from Germany, wanted to know more about it.
Various American Christmas traditions include: singing carols; hanging stockings over the fireplace; leaving cookies out for Santa; placing mistletoe over doorways; but some Americans apparently also hang an ornamental pickle in their trees, and the first person to find it on Christmas Day will supposedly have luck for the entire next year.
No one knows anymore when and where this tradition started, but it has been attributed to being brought to the United States by German immigrants in the 19th century. If so, it must have been the bizarre tradition of one particular family as no one in Germany nowadays knows anything about it. Yes, the Germans are known for popularizing many fine culinary products such as sausage and mustard, and yes, they have a good assortment of pickles, but they do not hang them from their Christmas trees! To add confusion to the story, however, Christmas Pickle ornaments are now even sold in Germany where they are most likely only bought for their American novelty. So, as it is already too late this year, maybe next year, we should decorate our American Christmas trees so that they resemble fruit and vegetable stands and then call it a German tradition, which would fly because the Germans would soon be following suit. You can start by ordering yourself a Christmas Pickle and then take it from there. If you want to get really creative, use canned pickles. In fact, make all the decorations edible, and your Christmas party will be sure to be a hit!
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever owned a Christmas pickle? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Tavares, A. Daniel. The Legend of the Christmas Pickle. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.