Die Weihnachtsgurken-Legende or the Christmas Ornament Pickle…


Let’s talk pickle! I don’t know how many times someone has asked me if my family or I hang a pickle in our tree during the Christmas time. Too many to count. It is supposed to be one of the ‘old German traditions.’ One that has been passed down from generation to generation. I hate to break it to you but Germans don’t hang pickles in their Christmas trees!


It is one of the biggest myths. I mean, Germans do love pickles. If I am completely honest I have a few different kinds in my pantry right now and one … no scratch that…two different kinds in the fridge. We eat them a lot. My family even eats them on top of goulash.


The German Pickle Ornament Story or pickle tradition goes a little like this … every year when the Christmas tree is decorated on Christmas Eve, parents would secretly hide green glass pickle ornament deep in the branches of the tree. And then on Christmas morning, the child who finds the secret pickle in the tree first gets an extra gift!

Anyone who has ever spend some time in Germany during the Christmas time, quickly realizes what is wrong with that story. Children don’t open their presents on Christmas morning. That happens on Christmas Eve or Heiligabend in Germany.


I was actually so baffled the first time I heard about the ‘pickle legend,’ that I even asked my grandmother about it. And even though she is German through and through, she had never heard of it and asked me if I was trying to be funny! And the only thing you can find on the internet about the origin of the pickle ornament is the theory that in the 1890s German immigrants flooded America, bringing with them their new customs and traditions, including the Christmas tree. Woolworth at the same time had loads of new ornaments, among them glass blown vegetable ornaments which included the pickle. But no one was buying the pickle ornament, so someone started a rumor that Germans would hang the pickle in their tree or an additional gift and suddenly the green glass pickle ornament was all the rage and selling like hotcakes!

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In the end the only thing I can really say is that to this day no one I know has ever heard of the German Christmas pickle legend. There is no indication that hiding the Weihnachtsgurke is an actual tradition in Germany. If you know how it got started or if you have ever done it in Germany, please let me know!

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