the legendary christmas pickle

Christmas_pickleWhat do pickles have to do with Christmas? That is the question I asked, many years ago, as I spent my first Christmas with my (future) husband’s family. Until that day I had never heard of a “Christmas Pickle” much less ever thought of making it a family tradition. I’m guessing that you have never either.

Here’s the scoop: The Christmas pickle is not an actual pickle, it is simply a Christmas ornament that is shaped like a pickle. The ornament is hidden on a family’s Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, all of the children take turns looking for the pickle ornament and the child who finds the Christmas pickle receives an extra present for his or her good work.

My in-laws love this tradition because it encourages the children (and now grandchildren) to take the time to appreciate all of the beautiful ornaments on the Christmas tree. Instead of simply rushing to open their presents, they spend time talking about the unique history of all the holiday decorations.

This Christmas pickle story, with a few minor variations, can be found all over the internet and is printed on a card inside the ornament package. It is commonly stated that the Christmas pickle tradition began in Germany.

Being of German heritage myself, I can see the flaws in this “legend.” And perhaps my in-laws can too. First of all, the German St. Nick doesn’t show up on Christmas Eve. He arrives on the 5th or 6th of December. Nor do German children open their presents on Christmas morning. That happens on Christmas Eve in Germany. Additionally, many Germans (and German decendants here in America) say they have never heard of this custom.

If learning about the history of Christmas pickles has inspired you to incorporate this fun tradition into your own holiday celebration, you can buy a pickle ornament online from a lengthy list of retailers.

Have yourself a Merry Christmas!


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