What Exactly is a Christmas Pickle?
This strange tradition is kind of a big dill.
Hidden among the branches of many Americans’ Christmas trees is a somewhat unusual ornament: a shiny pickle.
If you’re like me, you’ve seen them on shelves before but wrote them off as a kitschy trend. Turns out, the Christmas pickle is so much more.
According to tradition, the first child to find the gherkin will receive an extra present. Other versions allege that the eagle-eyed kid will have good luck throughout the new year.
WATCH: 5 Pickle Recipes
The Christmas pickle’s origins are a bit murky. People used to think it was an old German tradition, probably because pickles were among the food-related German ornaments Woolworth’s sold in the 1880s. Modern research, however, has proven that this tradition likely started in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
There are two slightly more elaborate—and disturbing—tales of how the Christmas pickle came to be:
In one, a Civil War-era prisoner knew he was dying of starvation, so he begged the guard for one final pickle. That pickle gave him the mental and physical strength to keep living.
In the other, two medieval Spanish boys were murdered by a villainous innkeeper on their way home from boarding school. Saint Nicholas discovered their bodies in a pickle barrel and miraculously brought the children back to life.
While a life-saving pickle and a resurrecting Santa Claus are both very exciting, it’s most likely this tradition was the brainchild of an imaginative (and entrepreneurial) ornament salesman.
Looking to start a tradition your family will relish? Well, look no further: