A Pickle On Your Christmas Tree? Some Interesting Things About The Origin Of The Famous Pickle Ornament
December 11, 2018 15:59 By Mambee
Decorating the Christmas tree is an activity enjoyed by most families. In some households, on Christmas Eve, parents usually add one last ornament — the Christmas Pickle! — to the tree before going to bed.
The hand-painted glass ornament adds a touch of legend and humor to the holiday decorations.
Usually, the first child to find the hidden pickle ornament within the tree's boughs will have a year of good fortune, and they also get to have an extra gift.
It has always been assumed that the tradition of hiding a pickle in the Christmas tree has its root from Germany, since the Christmas tree originated there.
However, this has been refuted as the tradition is largely unknown in Germany, even though beautiful glass pickles are made there. So how did this custom begin?
It may have sprung as a marketing ploy by FW Woolworth to help promote the sales of German glass ornaments at its US stores in the 1890s.
However, more interesting theories abound. According to a tale, during the civil war, a German soldier called John Lower fell sick while imprisoned. As a dying wish, he begged for a pickle and the guard was kind enough to grant it.
Fortunately, Lower recovered, so when the war was over, he returned home and began hanging a pickle on his Christmas tree to represent his good fortune.
This particular tale, though very inspiring, may not be the origin of the tradition, however, as glass ornaments became popular in the United States only fifteen years after the civil war.
Another legend holds that the practice became popular after Saint Nicholas’ amazing rescue. It was said that a wicked innkeeper had kept two schoolboys from going home for the Christmas holiday by locking them in a pickle barrel.
Thankfully, Saint Nicholas, who lodged at the same inn, saved the boys. Again, this legend seems to be just a tale as the barrel was said to be originally holding meat for the pie, not pickle.
Perhaps the marketing department at FW Woolworth is indeed responsible for the Christmas pickle tradition. Regardless of the real story, the Christmas pickle remains a fun tradition for both adults and kids!