It’s the Christmas season, and we all have our own family traditions of decking the halls, building snowmen, and decorating the tree. You know the drill, lights wrapped around, vintage ornaments on first, angel on the top, and…a pickle?
If you’re confused by that last part, then you’re not alone. But there are a lot of families this time of year that add one very special trinket to their Christmas tree, and it has a lot of meaning behind its wrinkly skin!
The ornament (no, it’s not a real pickle) is usually placed on the tree by an adult, but specifically hidden away so that it’s hard to find. The children of the household are then supposed to try and find said knickknack.
The first child to locate the pruned bauble is said to have good luck in the upcoming year, and many families actually have a special pickle-present for them to open as well, or at the very least getting to open one of their presents early.
But where does this briny custom come from? Turns out, it’s been an all-American tradition from the get-go.
While many would assume that the idea of hanging a pickle from a tannenbaum is a purely German phenomenon, the practice actually comes from more of a marketing background than anything else.
In the 1890s, when the retail giant Woolworths began importing a variety of Christmas items from Europe, they saw a rise in popularity in glass ornaments.
In particular, people seemed fascinated with the odd-looking food ornaments, including the pickle. People thought it was hilarious to hang something so tart and salty from their trees that it actually became a holiday tradition.
Of course, there is the old urban legend of St. Nicholas rescuing three boys from an evil shopkeeper. The cannibalistic villain had cut the boys to pieces and placed them in a pickle barrel, but through prayer St. Nicholas was able to revive the boys. Scary, but ultimately happy!