The German Christmas Pickle Myth

A few years back when my family was living in San Francisco, I encountered this interesting  so-called, “German” tradition – The German Christmas Pickle.  My Mother, on the hunt for some Christmas Tree Ornaments  ended up  in bizarre store somewhere in downtown San Francisco and came across the so-called “German Christmas Pickle“.  Now I can guarantee you that about 0 Germans know what the hell a Christmas pickle is – and I’m quite sure that not even that many Americans can explain to me what this thing is, where it came from and why you would hang it in a tree.

Being the curious type, she asked the salesman (who was busy unpacking a box of very gay christmas mermen – they are quite popular(SFW) ) what the deal is with this “Tradition”. So apparently the tradition is as follows: A Parent hides the Christmas Pickle in the Christmas Tree (the pickle, which due to its green color is relatively hard to spot in the tree) and the rest of the family has to find it. Whoever finds it first gets an extra present. Apparently these Christmas pickles are available in 3 different sizes – to make it more difficult to “spot the pickle” when the children get older. The Person who finds the Pickle first is blessed with good luck for the next year and gets an additional present. The tradition reminds me of the French “Galette des Rois”, where a small porcelain figure is baked into a cake. Whoever gets the piece with the porcelain figure in it is “King” for the day.

 

There are various different legends on how this tradition came about but 100% of them turn up to be BS.  Heres an article which does a good job of summarising the fake origins of this myth –  The German Christmas Pickle Tradition: Myth or Reality?

 

Close Up of the infamous German Christmas Pickle

 

The short summary is that no one knows where this tradition came from, and that no german has ever heard about it – aside from the ones which were quizzed by Americans about it. Either way – the German Christmas Pickle (along with a very tasteful merman) made it back to our house and into our Tree. 10 years have since passed and this very German family still competes every Christmas Eve to spot the German Christmas Pickle. Its even gone so far over the years that everyone has been gifted their own German Christmas Pickel to spread the tradition.  

 

A Glass Containing a German Christmas Pickle
Die Geschichte der Weihnachtsgurke im Glass
The Story of the German Christmas Pickle
A good 2 years have gone by since I wrote the Original Christmas Pickle Post and it seems like the “Pickle” is finally turning mainstream in Germany! Through a series of events I ended up ordering a Christmas Pickle over Amazon from a Germany Vendor. They claimed to sell the “100% Original” ornament. It even came in a nice jar. So I ordered 4 of them (long story) and waited for them to arrive.
The next day while shopping for other Ornaments in a large shopping center, I happend to stumble across a massive tray of Christmas Pickles. The quality of glass was rather poor – and the questionable “frosting” on the tip made the already phalic gehrkin even more dick-like. Needless to say I didnt buy one.  The paper attached did yield another interesting variation of the myth, saying that the custom originated (or at least was extremely popular) in the 1920s. Soon enough there will be Christmas Pickles hanging in every German Christmas Tree!

 

The Original German Christmas Pickle - Die Original Weihnachtsgurke
The infamous German Christmas Pickle
questionable german christmas pickle weihnachtsgurke
Your Comments
  • It’s funny, all Germans we asked about he pickle said it was an American thing. Even the pickle we were gifted came with some handout from the pickle company about it being an American tradition!

    • You aren’t wrong there – it is an American thing, but its said the tradition originated from Germany. One the one hand it would make sense, because the tradition of Christmas Tree decorations does stem from Germany (some families still hang nuts and fruits in their tree) – but on the other hand I think there is enough proof out there that this is just an American fantasy. Nevertheless credit where credit is due – the Christmas Pickle seems to have become really popular.

      • How silly! I have never heard of this before, but it’s a fun story nonetheless.

      • indeed, its a very odd thing – but it turned into a nice tradition. Everyone should do this!

  • Oh, aren’t Americans good at making up other cultures’ traditions? Speaking of which: I almost fell for “pasta with chicken”. Almost.

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