Nov 282011

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.

Capt. Fritter

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”.

Xmas pickle

  6 Responses to “What does a pickle, a Civil War POW camp, and Xmas have in common?”

  1. once upon a time …. there was a young upwardly mobile ad executive.
    he lived in the city of lights by the big water. he lived on the very top floor of a very tall building.
    in some fairy stories it’s called the penthouse.
    he lived in the penthouse because he made lots and lots of stuff they call money.
    the reason he made so much money is because he was known as “the great idea man.”
    he was told to come up with a new idea that would become an instant “hit” and that
    would be sold in all the stores in the land… to make some people lots of money at christmas.
    he thought and thought. but he couldn’t think of a thing.
    he went to his fridge for a snack.
    in the fridge were a jar of pickles and a bottle of white zinfandel.
    he stood there… munching on a pickle… sipping the wine.
    voila’! the christmas pickle was born.
    and people are still falling for (excuse me… buying it) to this day… lo these many 20 years ago or so.
    the end.

  2. Lo, and the same man of bright ideas helped even more enterprising people bring their ideas to the marketplace, and didn’t make judgements on their validity, because he believed in the wisdom of the free market which allows common men and women to take their ideas to the people, and the people will decide what will profit and what won’t. They will decide by their votes, and their votes shall be their dollars which they will accumulate in the manner that they see fit, and then trade their currency of life for the things of their personal choosing. As the flow of currency increases, and more and more people contibute and cast their votes, Christmas Pickles of all ilk will either live or die… not because of some dupe, but because the people will it to be so….

  3. hahaha. can’t wait.
    some folks take it all so seriously.
    my humble advice…
    relax dude. lighten up. you’re not gonna get out of this alive.
    and if by chance you do… you can always take your pickle with you!
    love to you MJD … and well, why not… a bear hug too!