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What Is a Christmas Pickle?

A pickle Christmas ornament hangs from a Christmas tree branch.
Sahara Prince/Shutterstock.com

You probably know the big Christmas traditions—putting lights on the tree, kissing under the mistletoe, and putting out milk and cookies for Santa. But have you heard of the tradition of the Christmas pickle?

For some families, a Christmas pickle is a longstanding tradition that’s all about playing a fun game on Christmas morning.

If you haven’t heard of the Christmas pickle tradition, a family member will hang a pickle ornament onto a tree. Because the pickle is nearly the same hue as most Christmas trees, it blends in and becomes hard to find. On Christmas morning, family members rush to the tree to find the pickle, and the person who does gets an extra present. Cute, right?

But where did it comes from? The truth is that no one really knows. German tradition is the most oft-cited reason for the pickle and the role it plays on Christmas morning. However, a New York Times survey found that few Germans had even heard of the tradition, debunking the most popular theory.

Other origin stories include St. Nicholas rescuing two boys from a pickle barrel and a history of German glassblowers creating fruit and vegetable-themed ornaments. Ultimately, the Christmas pickle is likely to remain a mystery, but even if people aren’t sure why they do it, the practice is still a fun one—particularly for kids.

If you were looking for a new tradition to try this year, the Christmas pickle might be a good option.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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