Informant: Our family has a pickle ornament we leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve, and then when Santa comes, he hides it on the tree and the first person to find it in the morning gets to open the first present. I always thought it was weird, but apparently there’s some German cultural thing behind it. I don’t know, my dad’s family does it.
The informant is a student at the University of Southern California. She is originally from Florida, and has younger siblings who also participate in the “pickle hunt.”
The tradition of hiding a pickle in the Christmas tree is a well-documented one, although several sources claim that the practice didn’t originate in Germany, as many claim, but is instead an American invention. Nevertheless, the arguably German pickle-hiding has many variations. In most, an ornament resembling a pickle is hidden in the tree, sometimes by parents and sometimes by St. Nick (or “Santa”). On Christmas morning, the children of the house will search the tree; whoever finds the pickle receives some kind of prize—candy, an extra present, the right to be the first to open a present, et cetera. Oddly enough, another informant I interviewed also told me about her family’s Christmas pickle tradition, which varies slightly from this one.
To see the second Christmas pickle account, see Christmas Pickle – II.
Citation: “Legend of the Pickle.” County Fair Pickles. County Fair Food Products, 2009. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.