The Secret Reason Why People Hide Pickles in Their Christmas Trees

Introducing Weihnachtsgurke, a great Midwestern tradition!

worst holiday trends

Amid all of the gorgeous ornaments suspended on the boughs of Christmas trees, there's one that invariably sticks out: the Christmas pickle. How did this odd decoration come about? After all, there's no Christmas Carrot, or Christmas Kalamata Olive. So how did this odd vegetable which most Americans don't even eat earn such a coveted spot in one of our most prized holiday traditions?

According to legend, the Christmas pickle is a challenge of sorts, in the sense that the first child who manages to spot it gets an extra present from Santa for his or her exceptional observational skills.

What's strange is that the custom supposedly derives from Germany, where it's called Weihnachtsgurke (which literally translates to Christmas Pickle), and yet it doesn't seem to be particularly popular there.

In 2016, YouGov polled 2,057 Germans and found that 91 percent were unaware of this mysterious gherkin. Instead, the holiday tradition enjoys its greatest popularity in the American Midwest, which was initially settled largely by German immigrants. In fact, the town of Berrien Springs in Michigan even has an annual Christmas Pickle Festival, which is kicked off by a parade in which fresh pickles are handed out by the Grand Dillmeister.

The origin of the tradition is somewhat unclear, but the most popular version of the tale claims that it was a marketing scheme by the five-and-dime store Woolworth Co., who came up with the story in the 1890s in order to help sell glass tree decorations imported from Germany. And for more great Christmas tree-related knowledge, check out these 20 Genius Tricks for Making Your Christmas Tree the Envy of the Block.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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