Why Do People Hang a Pickle on Their Christmas Tree?

Three theories abound and one town takes things to the extreme!

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We all have our Christmas traditions, but here’s one perhaps you haven’t heard of: The Christmas pickle.

Why Do Some People Hang a Pickle on Their Christmas Tree?

Believe it or not, some people hang a pickle ornament from their Christmas tree. The first person or child to find the ornament gets a present. Others believe the finder will be the recipient of good fortune in the new year. However, no one seems to know where the tradition comes from.

3 Theories

Here’s one theory: According to several sources, in the late 1880s, Woolworth stores began selling glass ornaments imported from Germany. These ornaments were made in the shapes of fruits and vegetables, including the pickle. Yet it’s unclear why the pickle became the tradition. It was green so it was hard to find on the tree? Maybe!

Another theory includes a soldier in the American Civil War. When the soldier was taken prisoner on Christmas Eve, he begged a guard for one last pickle before he died. The guard gave him a pickle and it gave him the strength he needed. When the soldier returned to his family, he started the tradition of hiding a pickle on the Christmas tree every year. Again, maybe.

A third theory includes two Spanish boys who were traveling home for the holidays from their boarding school. They stopped for the night at an inn where they were killed and their bodies were put in a pickle barrel. That evening, St. Nicholas stopped at the inn, found the boys in the barrel and brought them back to life. Yikes!

The Most Popular Pickle

While no one is certain where the tradition comes from, many in one Michigan town celebrate the pickle every December. Berrien Springs is recognized as the Christmas Pickle Capital of the World. They celebrate with a parade led by the Grand Dillmeister, who passes out fresh pickles along the parade route.

You can purchase pickle ornaments at many Christmas gift stores, and on Amazon.

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.