The Mysterious Tradition of ‘The Christmas Pickle’ or ‘Hide The Pickle’
There are many Christmas traditions around the world, and some of them are just plain strange. Have you ever heard of "Hide The Pickle" or "The Christmas Pickle?" I hadn't heard of it until today, but apparently there are quite a few people in Louisiana that have played the game for quite some time. I did some research into the tradition, and here's what I found out.
First off, what exactly is the Christmas tradition of "Hide The Pickle" or "The Christmas Pickle?" There are a few ways this Christmas game is played apparently.
One explanation I found says it's an old German tradition. Parents hide a pickle in the Christmas tree. The first kid to find it receives an extra Christmas present. Hellawella.com says the problem here is that when surveyed, most Germans had never heard of this tradition, so it probably isn't an old German Christmas game as some stories suggest.
Another explanation on hellawella.com says -
According to one tale, a Bavarian emigrant named John Lower started the tradition after he fell ill while imprisoned in Andersonville, Ga., during the Civil War. When he pleaded to just have one pickle before he died, a guard took pity on him and found him one. Legend has it he recovered soon after and returned home, where he instituted the tradition in remembrance of his good fortune. The person who found the pickle on Christmas Day would be blessed with good fortune just as he had.
I spoke with a co-worker who's family has played the game for years, and got yet another explanation. She says the way they play is a bit different. Everyone in their family hangs a pickle Christmas ornament on their trees. During the holiday season, whenever they visit each other's houses, when they spot the pickle on the tree, they move it and hide it.
So it seems that no one really knows how, where or when the Christmas Pickle tradition started. My money is on the idea that the company that started making the Christmas Pickle ornament came up with the "age-old tradition" story as a clever marketing plan to sell more ornaments.
Even if the story behind this tradition is completely made up, who cares. Families that do play the game seem to really enjoy it, and isn't that all that truly matters?
If you want a Christmas Pickle, there are a few places to buy them. You can get one at cheapcookiecutters.com and plenty of other online retailers.