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Holiday Traditions and Mary's Freudian Slip

I was Christmas shopping with Mary, my mom, and sisters ten years ago at the Mole Hole in The Fashion Mall. It was a groovy little store with expensive knick-knacks and lots of fake trees dripping with ornaments for purchase. During one of those eerily quiet moments when everyone stops talking all at once, Mary said something that has been recounted several times throughout the last decade. She was reminiscing about growing up in Des Moines and the special holiday traditions enjoyed by Grandma and Grandpa, when she loudly proclaimed, “Every Christmas Eve Mom and Dad would hide the pickle.” All shoppers within ear shot began laughing.

When the hilarity died down, Mary told us that it was a German tradition to hide a real pickle deep in the tree. On Christmas morning it was a scramble to see which kid would find the pickle, because it meant a bonus present and good luck in the coming year.

If you Google “hiding the pickle on Christmas Eve” you find all kinds of interesting images and stories. Like this:

“In Old World Germany,
the last decoration placed on the
Christmas tree was a pickle
~ carefully hidden in the branches.

Legend says that the one
who found the pickle on
December 25 would be blessed
with a year of good fortune
and a special gift!

This tradition encourages children
to appreciate all the beautiful ornaments
on the tree, rather than rushing to see
what Santa has left for them.”


Does you know anything about hiding the pickle on Christmas Eve?


The Legend of the pickle box and ornament can be found on Slave to Target’s blog and all other images can be found on flickr

Views: 12

Comment by Erik Deckers on December 23, 2008 at 12:43pm
I just read your email and said, "Did she just say. . . ? Does she know. . . ?" and then I saw the title of this post and realized you did say and you did know. That's funny.

I've never heard this before though, so it sounds like an interesting tradition. But if I do it at home, I may pick something less. . . uhh, dirty sounding.

Merry Christmas.
Comment by Mary Pat McKee on December 23, 2008 at 1:00pm
i knew someone had been talking about the pickle and i could not remember who. We were just in Nashville and there was a store selling pickle ornaments. i tried to tell my kids but they thought i was crazy. i have now printed out your blog thing and we will see who laughs last. :)
Merry Christmas to All!
Comment by Amy Stark on December 23, 2008 at 5:07pm
@ Erik knowing that I made you laugh makes me feel great! Making someone laugh who understands and blogs about humor is a great compliment. Thanks!

@MaryPat... You wouldn't believe the stuff about hiding the pickle I found with a simple Google search. Amazing. I'm sure I mentioned it to you before. It's been a favorite anecdote of mine since it happened ten years ago. How long have we known each other I wonder? Anyhow, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family. =)
Comment by David Monroe on December 23, 2008 at 6:35pm
This brings back a lot of memories. My maternal Grandmother was a 2nd Generation German and while some of her traditions were deemed "too Catholic-y" by my Southern Baptist family, hiding the pickle wasn't one of them. It was something that Santa did on Christmas morning! LOL I know, I know! But "Santa" would hide the antique German glass ornament deep in our tree and just like Amy said, whoever found it got an extra gift and good luck. :) We stopped doing it when our Grandmother passed away in '78. I thought about reviving it with my kids but was afraid of them going to school and mentioning it and the inevitable mis-understanding, teacher conference and visit from social services that would probably occur! Oh well!
Comment by Amy Stark on December 23, 2008 at 7:29pm
I'm glad I evoked a special memory. My maternal grandmother was conceived in Germany and was born in the U.S.--so my mom is 2nd Generation German. There is an abundance of web sites saying that it isn't really a German tradition, just a myth. Merry Christmas David.
Comment by Jeff Bowe on December 25, 2008 at 5:13pm
I can think of many great Holiday traditions to continue, and this is just one of them. Memories make each holiday special...the more the better.
Comment by Steven Fero on December 30, 2008 at 11:11am
We picked up this tradition although it's not ours. We hide it in the tree on Christmas Eve and our daughter finds it in the morning, receiving a special gift for finding it. Don't know where this originated. It reminds me somewhat of children finding hidden Matzoh (Afikomen) at a Jewish seder and receiving a prize. Here's our pickle on this year's tree:

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