As I was out and about today I stopped in the Dollar Store for a couple of things. As I was walking by the Xmas decorations, amidst all the bows, tinsel, and garland, I noticed…pickle ornaments. I wondered, what was up with the vegetable shaped ornaments? Sure there were other tree hangers of stuff you would not expect to see hanging on a tree in December but the package said, “Xmas Pickle”, so I had to check it out.
Turns out there is quite a story behind the Xmas pickle, some of which may be true, some of which may be bovine fecal matter. But it turns out to be quite entertaining.
The tradition goes, so they say, that when the Xmas tree is decorated on Xmas eve, the last ornament to go on is the Xmas pickle. The parents hide the pickle…(I know. When I first heard the term “hide the pickle” I immediately thought it was either a Penn State hazing tradition or a new addition to the catholic mass right after the crackers and wine…Ahem…let’s move on shall we?)…where was I? Oh yes, the parents hide the pickle in the tree and tradition has it that the first kid who finds the pickle on Xmas morning gets an extra special treat…piece of candy, extra present, that sort of thing.
Up until this day I had never heard of such a thing as the Xmas pickle so naturally I had to check it out. Here is what I found…
Half the Internet claims the legend of the Xmas pickle to be nothing more than a fabrication with no basis in fact. Pickle ornaments just started showing up on store shelves a few years ago and the legend was born somewheres. I don’t much care for that. It makes for boring blog fodder so I kept looking. (The other half of the internet is all porn and if you mention the word pickle everyone just giggles). As it is there are two primary stories out there about the origins of the Xmas pickle.
The first is that sometime in the middle ages over in Germany a couple of kids stopped at an inn for the night. For reasons unknown the innkeeper imprisoned them in a pickle barrel, (presumably the innkeeper was catholic….ok I’ll stop now.). While the kids were in the pickle barrel along came St. Nicholas and freed them. Thus the Xmas pickle was born.
The other version is a bit more believable, that is assuming you actually buy into the whole holiday vegetable cult. During the American Civil War, a union solder of German descent, one John Lower, was captured and imprisoned at Andersonville Prison…the Confederate equivalent of Auschwitz. Prisoners were kept in appalling conditions and never given enough to eat. Lower was starving to death and was certain the end was near. He begged a guard for a pickle to eat before he died. Not my personal choice for a last meal but I didn’t make up the story. The guard took pity on Lower and found him a pickle to eat. The pickle, apparently full of more vitamins and nutrients than we give it credit for, along with the guards generosity, so inspired Lower that he survived his captivity and returned home alive. Afterwards he started the tradition of hiding a pickle in the Xmas tree and rewarding the kid who found it with an extra present or gift.
Other versions place the tradition somewheres in Germany and brought over by immigrants to this country. Having grown up in Amish country I have never heard of the Xmas pickle to this day. Go through some of the forums and some people swear they have been doing the Xmas pickle routine for years. Others never heard it. Either way, it looks like a fine little tradition to add to the morning rituals on Dec. 25 th.
How about any of you? Anybody else out there in Fritter land do the Xmas pickle. Let’s hear your version. Add it to the comments below.
If there was ever a holiday tradition that fit in with this blog it would be the Xmas pickle. Besides, I just like saying, “Xmas pickle”.