The Unusual History Of The Christmas Pickle

As the holidays roll around, there's nothing better than cracking into those dusty boxes in the attic and decorating the house.

Many of us hang a wreath, some stockings, and adorn a Christmas tree with various ornaments. You have probably seen Santa ornaments and reindeer ornaments, but have you ever seen a pickle hanging on a Christmas tree?

This lesser-known tradition, known as the Christmas Pickle, has a pretty interesting backstory.

It's hard to imagine Christmas without a fully decked out tree plopped right in the middle of your living room.

The tree is where it all happens. Gifts are stacked underneath and the lights fill the room with a festive spirit. One lesser-known tradition involving the Christmas tree is getting some major attention online and has even generated a debate around its origins: The Christmas pickle.

If you haven't seen one before, this is it ya'll, the Christmas pickle.

The Saucy Southerner

You have to admit that a pickle stands out as a pretty bizarre Christmas tree ornament. So what's the deal? What does the pickle represent and where did it actually come from?

Otherwise known as the Weihnachtsgurke, this tradition is thought to have originated from Germany.

Unsplash | Christian Wiediger

If you asked people in the American Midwest if they knew what the Christmas pickle was, there's a decent chance they would recognize it.

After all this area of the United States is packed with people with German ancestry. But things are about to get even more interesting.

If you actually ask a German if they have heard of the Christmas pickle tradition, the vast majority would have no idea what you're talking about.

A poll surveying over 2,000 Germans conducted by YouGov found that 91% had never heard of the tradition. Confusing, I know. This may become clearer a bit later, bear with me.

The tradition surrounding the pickle is actually pretty simple.

The Christmas pickle is to be the last ornament hung on the Christmas tree and the first child to find the pickle in the morning is thought to be granted with good luck and also gets a gift.

This is definitely a tradition I can get behind. But why exactly is it a pickle?

There are a few theories kicking around to explain why a pickle was chosen for this tradition.

Many people believe the practice began as a clever marketing scheme by an American salesman who had an over abundance of pickle ornaments kicking around.

To be honest, this may explain the reason very few Germans have actually heard of the Christmas pickle.

The salesman theory is actually a huge bummer, so what other theories exist?

Another theory states that a captured German-American soldier in the Civil War had become especially ill, and after eating a pickle as his last meal, his health was miraculously restored.

The soldier is believed to have hung a pickle on his Christmas tree from that point on. The next theory is a little morbid.

The other running theory out there involves St. Nicholas.

Flickr | CircaSassy

According to this theory, St. Nicholas discovered that a shop owner had killed three boys and had hid them in a giant barrel of pickles. St. Nicholas then prayed for the boys, who were eventually brought back to life.

From that point on, St. Nicholas was associated with pickles. Well, maybe to some. After all, only a tiny percentage of Germans have even heard of the Christmas pickle.

Interestingly, the Christmas pickle tradition was discovered by some Germans in the United States and is even picking up in popularity back in Germany!

A glass artist, Sascha Müller, actually found out about the tradition in the 1990s on a trip to Michigan and reportedly produces thousands of these ornaments back at home in Germany. How ironic is that?

We may never know the real story behind the Christmas pickle.

Flickr | kerrynoir

I don't know about you, but I may be introducing the Christmas pickle to my family this year. How about you?