Saturday, December 06, 2008

Holiday legends

One of my favorite folklore tales is about the Christmas Pickle ... or is it really folklore!

A very old Christmas eve tradition in Germany was to hide a pickle [ornament] deep in the branches of the family Christmas Tree. The parents hung the pickle last after all the other ornaments were in place. In the morning they knew the most observant child would receive an extra gift from St. Nicholas. The first adult who finds the pickle traditionally gets good luck for the whole year.

And here is another version of the Christmas Pickle story.

A descendent of a soldier who fought in the American Civil War, John Lower (Hans Lauer?), born in Bavaria in 1842, wrote to tell about a family story that had to do with a Christmas pickle. According to family lore, “John Lower was captured and sent to prison in Andersonville, Georgia. ...In poor health and starving, he begged a guard for just one pickle before he died. The guard took pity on him and found a pickle for John Lower. According to family legend, John said that the pickle—by the grace of God—gave him the mental and physical strength to live on. Once he was reunited with his family he began a tradition of hiding a pickle on the Christmas tree. The first person who found the pickle on Christmas morning would be blessed with a year of good fortune.”

The Civil War ended in 1865, but glass Christmas tree ornaments did not become popular in the U.S. until around 1880, when F.W. Woolworth began importing them from Germany.


Irene said...

I've been reading on some blogs about the pickle ornament, but did not know there was a story behind it. Thanks for sharing it.

mainely stitching said...

I've always found the pickle story kind of hard to swallow. LOL!

Sabine R said...

I've always thought the Christmas Pickle to be a very strange American custom - and now you're telling me it's supposed to be German *lol*. I don't know about the second version, but the first one is very unlikely. There's no need for German children to be observant in the morning because over here, they get their presents on Christmas Eve. And they don't get them from St. Nikolaus, he's got nothing to do with Christmas, he comes on Dec 6th... It's interesting though, sometimes you really wonder where some customs come from...
Hugs, Sabine :-)