Is the Christmas Pickle a German Tradition?

Have you ever heard about the “Christmas Pickle”? If not than you need to continuing this article. If your answer is yes you should know more about it. The question if the Christmas pickle in fact is a German tradition or not has kept many writers busy.
The German word would be “Weihnachtsgurke” and to be honest it does not sound like Germans would have invented this word. There are sour or sweet-sour pickles but a pickle that is contributed to Christmas that sounds rather strange.

What is the German Christmas Pickle?
It is a  a Christmas ornament that looks like a pickle which supposed to be hidden in the Christmas tree, and the first child that finds that green pickle on Christmas morning gets an extra gift. This is a tradition which cannot be German because the children get the gifts on Christmas Eve December 24.
Another tradition says that whoever finds the pickle will get a good fortune for the next year – this sounds rather like a Chinese tradition than a German one.

christmas pickle ornament

But there is more to it! The city Berrien Springs, located in the state of Michigan, is to be known as the “pickle capitol of the world”. They hold a pickle festival in early December and even have a pickle parade which is led by the Grand “Dillmeister”, who passes out fresh pickles along the parade route. In the local museum you can purchase the Christmas pickle ornaments made out of glass and green as  a pickle!

Berrien Springs has a cute tale that explains how the Christmas pickle became popular: One upon a time… Two Spanish boys traveling home from boarding school for the holidays stopped at an inn for the night. The innkeeper, a rather mean and evil man, imprisoned the boys in a pickle barrel. In the same evening, the boys were so lucky indeed, the holy Saint Nicholas stopped at the same inn, found out that the two s boys were captured and freed them by tapping the barrel with his staff.

But there is another story! The Christmas pickle tradition  came from Camp Sumter during the American Civil War. The Bavarian-born Private John C. Lower had enlisted in the 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry, but was captured in April 1864 and taken to the prison camp. As the story is told, on Christmas Eve he begged a guard for a pickle because he was starving. The guard provided the pickle, which Lower later credited for saving his life. After returning to his family, he began a tradition of hiding a pickle on their Christmas tree each year.

If you ask the natives of Germany that will all state that the pickle is not German at all. Some might even feel insulted! Let’s come to a conclusion: It is not a German tradition.

In the Old World Restaurant Christmas is celebrated as in Germany with a Christmas tree and traditional German food specialties such as Christstollen, Weihnachtsplätzchen (Christmas Cookies) and Glühwein. Specially the German Stollen are not to be missed.

The Old World Bakery bakes the Stollen after original German recipes with marzipan or rum.

Click on the photo to got to the Old World Bakery

Christmas Stollen Old World



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