Ever seen a pickle-shaped ornament in a Christmas tree? There’s a history and legend around this!
At first, a glass pickle suspended typically red and green baubles and with maybe surrounded with silver and gold tinsel might seem somewhat strange. As Wide Open Country writes, it is reportedly a fortuitous sighting – and part of an Old World convention.
There are a couple of variations, but the story goes that the first child to find the pickle Christmas ornament is to be awarded with the first gift, an extra gift, or the job of handing out the gifts, in addition to good luck for the year.
While the unique habit known as Weihnachtsgurke, or Christmas Pickle, allegedly has its roots in Germany, seemingly most Germans haven’t even heard of it. The New York Times reported that out of 2,057 Germans polled, YouGov decided 91% were unaware of this legend.
The pickle ornament tradition is actually popular in the Midwest, states the book. Possibly because of the large number of German immigrants in the region, including in Berrien Springs, Michigan, a German settlement and the self-proclaimed “Christmas Pickle Capital of the World,” has something to do with this.
Berrien Springs even hosts an annual Christmas Pickle Festival. The source of the salty bite as a Christmas tradition is a little bit of a, well, pickle.
In 1 narrative, a villainous innkeeper trapped two boys in a pickle barrel, and St. Nicholas himself set them free according to Tampa Bay Magazine.
According to yet a different legend, it was inspired by a German-American soldier who was taken prisoner during the Civil War. Starving, he begged a guard to give him one last pickle before he died. The pity pickle gave him the mental and physical strength to live on.
Another theory suggests maybe it was a mere advertising scheme. In the 1840s, German glassblowers made decorations shaped like nuts and fruit, so pickles could have been by chance, and by the 1880s, F. W. Woolworth Company began importing them to sell, paired with the story.