Lifestyle

What’s the Dill?: Deciphering the Christmas Pickle Tradition

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Christmas has several traditions. Some seem natural, like singing carols, but others are more unusual. The Christmas pickle fits into the latter category. At first glance, it does not seem to make sense. What do pickles have to do with Christmas? But, many families hide a glass pickle ornament in their trees each year, following the tradition. Whether or not this is part of your family’s holiday tradition, discover the origins of this unusual ornament.

What is a Christmas Pickle?

Christmas pickle

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Each year, families celebrate this tradition by hiding a pickle-shaped ornament on the Christmas tree. According to the practice, the first to find the ornament gets luck or an extra gift designated for the finder. This provides incentive to search carefully, though it’s not as easy as it looks. Both the ornament and the tree are green, and finding the pickle can be hard for children and adults.

Where Did It Come From?

Woolworths popularlized the Christmas pickle in the US

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Though some attribute the origins of the Christmas pickle to Germany, if you ask modern Germans, they’ve never heard of such a thing. Quite possibly, the practice came about as a way to promote the glasswork of Germany, which included unusually shaped ornaments. Woolworths began promoting these when the company started selling them in the United States.

While the actual birth of the pickle tradition may sadden some who believe it to be a long-held heritage by their forefathers from Europe instead of a marketing ploy, they should not be too concerned. Americans have been hiding pickle ornaments in their Christmas trees since 1890, so it’s possible that it’s been a multigenerational tradition that’s purely American.

Where is the Practice Popular?

Christmas Pickle Ornament in a Tree
Photo: Flickr/Robin Zebrowski

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