The Untold Story of the Christmas Pickle Ornament

pickle ornament

Photo: Mike Krautter

This story originally appeared on by Alexandra Churchill.

It's kind of a big dill at my house.

Every Christmas, our halls and tree are decked out from top to bottom. In the midst of all the glittery, sparkly, shiny ornaments and garland, there hangs a single glass pickle. It's the most sought after piece of decoration in the house...and for good reason.

Related: Christmas Cookie Recipes

See, on Christmas Eve, after the children have fallen asleep, my parents sneak downstairs and hide the pickle in the boughs of the tree. Because of its green color, it blends into the evergreen and is hard to spot. The first child to find the ornament on Christmas morning is granted the privilege of unwrapping a special gift from under the tree.

The story behind the gherkin-themed game?

For years, people believed that the Christmas pickle tradition was passed down through the generations from Old World Germany. Other people believe the pickle is in honor of an American Civil War soldier who was saved from starvation on Christmas Eve by eating a pickle. Still others believe that the tradition has something to do with St. Nicholas saving two boys who were trapped in a barrel of pickles. Historical evidence, however, supports the theory that the tradition was most likely fabricated by salesmen during the late 1800s to promote German glass ornaments in American stores. Sorry.

But whichever story you believe to be true, there's no doubt that the pickle ornament has become a mainstay in many homes across the country, including my own. Even though I've never been the first to spot that pickle myself (I'm a late sleeper), it just wouldn't be Christmas without it hiding in our tree.

This article originally appeared on

Author Handle/ID
Dock Right Rail
For Category Page, Second Priority Image - URL path (used in grid and Featured Story if First Priority is blank)
For Category Page, First Priority Image - URL path (used for grid and Featured Story)
For Category Page, Third Priority Image upload (used in grid and Featured Story if URL paths are blank)
pickle ornament