Tag Archives: luxembourg

The Christmas Pickle

BACKGOUND: NH is a friend of the interviewer.
CONTEXT: NH describes his family’s “Christmas Pickle” tradition.
Informant: “Every Christmas Eve, my grandma would hide a green pickle ornament somewhere in our Christmas tree. My three cousins and I would compete to find it first. She usually hid it deep in the tree somewhere. Whoever found it first got $10 or so.
While it does have German-American roots, and my family is of Luxembourg origin – so it kind of tracks – I also think we might do it because our last name is Heinz, like the infamous pickle-makers. You know, 57 Varieties of Pickles?”
Interviewer: “Yeah, of course. Any known relation to the company?”
Informant: “No, unfortunately.”
ANALYSIS: The Christmas Pickle is a known, semi-practiced Christmastime folk tradition originating, as NH described, in German-American households. The use of a pickle ornament could be a reference to pickles’ prominence in Germany, Poland, and Eastern Europe cuisine. The cash prize associated with the tradition goes along with the idea of Christmas as a time for gift-giving, even though there is slightly more work involved to get the cash than with a usual Christmas gift. For another version of the Christmas Pickle tradition, one that delves into the tradition’s history, see:

Churchill, Alexandra. “The Untold Story of the Christmas Pickle Ornament.” Martha Stewart, 10 Dec. 2019, https://www.marthastewart.com/1097532/decorative-past-tradition-christmas-pickle-ornament.