Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
But have you ever heard of the Christmas pickle ornament tradition? Yup, people are hanging them on their Christmas trees – and it’s not just because they’re gherkin super-fans, like us.
It turns out that hiding a pickle bauble on your Christmas tree is actually a longstanding habit in many households around the world.
Intrigued? We’ll give you the DL…
What’s the Christmas pickle ornament tradition?
The first thing to note is that the Christmas pickle tradition isn’t about hanging an actual pickle on a Christmas tree. Instead, it sees people hanging a bauble shaped like a pickle amongst the branches of the tree so it’s hidden.
Known as Weihnachtsgurke (or Christmas pickle), the Old Country superstition goes that the first child to discover the pickle ornament amongst the green pines of the tree gets to open the first present at Christmas.
Others stipulate instead that the person who finds the pickle gets an extra present, whilst some families say that whoever finds it is afforded good fortune for the year.
Think Elf on the Shelf but swap in a deli snack. Fun, right?
As you might have guessed from the name, some people say the Christmas pickle trend has its roots in Germany (although this is disputed, and it’s actually not hugely well known over there today).
Instead, the Christmas pickle tradition is actually the most commonly upheld in the Midwest, and whether the German links are legitimate or not, it is certainly observed by German immigrants in the area.
In particular, Berrien Springs in Michigan is a German settlement where the Christmas pickle game is largely played, and local residents have even declared it the Christmas pickle Capital of the World. Yup, it’s a real thing, folks… and some people take it very seriously.
Where did the Christmas pickle ornament tradition come from?
Given the murky origins of the Christmas pickle tradition, it’s unsurprising that there are a few different theories about how it begun.
One story goes that a German soldier who was a prisoner in the American Civil War pleaded with a guard to give them a pickle so he wouldn’t starve, and it helped them survive.
Meanwhile, others cite a story about St. Nicholas saving two boys from a barrel of pickles.
Granted, neither story sounds very plausible, so is there a more convincing one?
Well, according to historians, the Christmas pickle tradition is more likely to come from a salesman (F. W. Woolworth) in the late 1800s who was keen to flog the German pickle bauble ornaments in American stores.
Where can you buy Christmas pickle baubles?
There are loads of places you can buy a pickle ornaments, but we rooted out some of our faves that are for sale here in the UK.
Etsy seller @KnitasaFiddle also offers an adorable knitted pickle for £5, if you’re after something a little different, and over on Amazon, you can even buy an electronic pickle that congratulates you by yodelling when you find it (what fun, ey?).
Of course, there are far more ornaments out there if you want to hang a pickle on your Christmas tree this year.
Whether you want a bit of good luck or you just love yourself a gherkin, there’s still time to get on the Christmas pickle hype this year…