Christmas tree ornament
s come in all shapes and sizes. From the traditional Christmas balls and icicles to a wide variety of specialty figures including Santa
windsurfing, members of the cast of the Wizard of Oz
, or a small replica of the U.S.S. Enterprise
with flashing phaser
s, there is seemingly no end to the type of thing that people will be willing to hang on their Christmas tree. One ornament, however, seems to have gained popularity in the past few years: the Christmas pickle
The legend of the Christmas pickle comes from the mists of antiquity. The legend goes that in Germany, when Santa arrives on Christmas Eve to distribute presents, he would hang on the tree a glass Christmas ornament shaped like a pickle.
Yes, a pickle.
Hidden in the boughs of the tree, the children upon arising would search the tree and the first child to find said pickle would be given a special present left by Old Saint Nick. This legend has been passed down over the years and is rampant on the internet and is usually included on a little card when one purchases an ornament shaped like a medium-sized dill pickle.
That is all well and good, but there is one problem: Germans have never heard of the practice.
The legend, according to the German Myth section of About.Com (http://german.about.com/library/blgermyth11.thm), is full of inaccuracies from the start. According to German tradition and sense of efficiency, St. Nicholas traditionally shows up in German homes on 6th of December. This along with the fact that German children open their presents on the Christmas Eve makes the pickle story hard to swallow.
It is likely that the whole "legend" is simply a marketing ploy that got swallowed by easily fooled Americans and has taken on a life of its own, though one possible story origin involves an American of German decent being captured by the Confederacy during the American Civil War and nearly dead from starvation asking his captors for a pickle before he died. Said pickle gave the man the strength and resolve to live and after he returned home, he began hanging a real pickle on his Christmas tree believing it would give the child who found it good luck. Either that or the man was a complete loon.