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The Christmas Pickle

The Christmas pickle is a tradition in our family that goes back several years. My mother-in-love first found our Old World Christmas ornaments at a little shop in Mountain Brook. Christine’s was the cutting edge gift shop of Birmingham for over 30 years and my MIL has given us several wonderful gifts purchased from her. This sweet gift is one that literally kept on giving for years to come.

The Old World Christmas Company produces beautiful pieces using the same techniques today that were used in the 1800’s. They are delicate, charming and have a vintage look that makes even the most modern tree have a lovely antique glow. The pickle may have been one of our first Old World ornaments, but it was not our last.

Old World craftsmen blow molten glass into crafted molds, then a hot solution of liquid silver is poured inside to make gorgeous ornaments. The Pickle Ornament is one of many.


The Christmas Pickle


There are three different stories about how the pickle ornament came to be such a rich tradition during Christmas. One is that it was a German tradition that Americans adapted from immigrants. This proved not to be true as the pickle wasn’t sold in Germany until after it became popular here. Then there is the tale that Santa saved twin boys from an evil innkeeper who had locked them in a pickle barrel. I really like this story because of its correlation to another innkeeper at Christmas, but the barrel turned out to be holding wine – not pickles, so…

There’s the legend of a Yankee prisoner starving in a Confederate prison in Camp Sumter, Georgia. (Read this with a deep southern drawl.) Supposedly, the Yankee soldier, who was of German descent, begged a Confederate prison guard for a pickle to save him from starvation. The kind-hearted guard snuck the pickle through the cell bars and saved his life. When the war was ovah and the prisoner was released, he went home to his family at Christmas and hung a pickle on their tree after telling everyone how it had saved his life. It became a tradition.

Hidden Pickle


It’s the last ornament hung on the tree and the first child/person to find it gets an early present.



Hiding a green cucumber deep inside a green tree can prove to be a huge challenge for pickle seekers.

Looking for the Pickle


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, such pleasure do you bring me!

Bring to us such joy and glee!

Pickle Seeking


Found the Pickle

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
You’ll ever be unchanging!
A symbol of goodwill and love
You’ll ever be unchanging

No matter how old my children get… psst…. or my husband… they all still ask if we are doing the Christmas Pickle every year. It’s become a tradition just like the Christmas tree… unchanging. Gifts range from cash to iTunes cards to a favorite Christmas movie on BlueRay.

Whether the pickle is a German tradition, or was used in the salvation of twins, a Yankee soldier or is perhaps a gimmick to sell more Christmas ornaments; we don’t mind getting ourselves into a pickle every year. What are some of your traditions?

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Kim Burdette

Kim Burdette


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    January 4, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Well what fun. I love the tradition of finding the hidden pickle and, of course, love the Old World ornaments. Their mercury glass gives the tree such a soft glow. For so many reasons, Christmas is my favorite holiday season. Great article! Thanks.

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