The Christmas pickle

Mythos or truth? Legend or history?

Nobody knows exactly, where this custom comes from, to hang glass tree decoration in the shape of a pickle on the Christmas tree. Anyway, in the USA, the “German Christmas Pickle” is cult, and one is absolutely convinced that it is an old German tradition.

In fact, old pickle shapes which date back around 1900, occasionally appear at Thuringian and Bavarian glassblowers. Historians try to prove that the first glass tree decoration, which was created in the middle of the 19th century, included fruit and vegetables, and possibly also the pickled cucumber was among them, which then came to America with emigrants. Another attempt of an explanation says that in former times, the families were too poor to give a present to every child at Christmas. So one placed a pickle on the tree, and the first child who found the pickle received present.

Also two legends surround the Christmas pickle: A Bavarian-born soldier named John Lower (Hans Lauer) was captured during the American Civil War. Suffering hunger, he begged for a small pickle before starving. He got the pickle – and he recovered miraculously. As a reward, he placed every year a pickle in den Christmas tree. Even more curious: On a voyage, two Spanish boys were robbed at an inn and put into a pickle barrel. Saint Nicolas saved them.

Whatever may be the truth: The Christmas pickle is an original and nice idea to enrich the celebration. The pickle is well hidden between the branches; because of its green colour it is perfectly disguised. Then the children must search it – without touching the tree. The child who finds the pickle first, is the first who may unwrap its presents, or receives a little extra present. Anyway, the pickle is supposed to bring good luck – also for the adults.