Have you heard about the German Christmas pickle tradition? According to the legend, a Christmas tradition in Germany is for German parents to hide a glass pickle-shaped ornament in the tree after all the other ornaments have been hung. Whoever finds it the next morning gets an extra present from St. Nick and is supposed to have good luck all year.
But…a glass pickle?
If it sounds like a strange tradition, that’s because it’s not a tradition at all – it’s a legend. Few Germans have ever heard of this “custom,” except for those who have learned about it on the Internet, where the “tradition” has been spread on a variety of websites. It has also been debunked on a number of sites.
One of the best articles about the German Christmas pickle comes from About.com, in an article titled, “German Myth 11: The Christmas Pickle.” The About.com Guide explains why the tradition couldn’t be true (including the fact that St. Nick comes in early December, not Christmas morning), but also says there could be a possible connection to German history. According to the article:
“As early as 1597, the small town of Lauscha… was known for its glass-blowing (Glasbläserei)…. In 1847 a few of the Lauscha craftsmen began producing glass ornaments (Glasschmuck) in the shape of fruits and nuts. These Glaskugeln were made in a unique hand-blown process combined with molds (formgeblasener Christbaumschmuck). Soon these unique Christmas ornaments were being exported to other parts of Europe, as well as England and the U.S.”
Today those ornaments are sold in the US along with the German pickle story. But there’s no historical evidence to suggest that the pickle story originated in Germany, even though the ornament creators are now taking advantage of the story to sell products.
So the German Christmas pickle “custom” is more fiction than fact, but if you want to a silly family tradition for the holidays, this could certainly definitely be it.