What Is the Origin of the Christmas Pickle Tradition?

Although the Christmas Pickle tradition was first thought to have originated in Germany, the evidence suggests it was actually started in the United States, possibly for marketing purposes. Another supposed origin story involves a starving Civil War solider who was given a pickle on Christmas Eve that saved his life.

The Christmas Pickle tradition entails hiding a pickle-shaped ornament somewhere on a decorated Christmas tree. The first person to find it on Christmas morning gets either an extra present or good fortune for the coming year.

Traditionally, the story of the Christmas Pickle was thought to have originated in Germany. However, this theory has been discredited because not many German people are actually familiar with the tale.

The most widely accepted theory is that the Christmas Pickle tradition originated in the late 1800s in the United States, when Woolworths stores started importing and selling blown glass ornaments from Germany. The Christmas Pickle story seems likely to have been created as a marketing tool to sell the ornaments.

Another story related to the Christmas Pickle tradition is that of a Bavarian-born soldier who was sent to a prison camp while serving in the Civil War. Legend has it that the starving man begged a prison guard for a pickle on Christmas Eve, which he received and credited for saving his life. When he got home, he supposedly started the tradition of hiding a pickle on the Christmas tree with his own family in honor of that night.