When you think of Christmas, the first thoughts to hit your mind are joy, cheer and recollection of running around the tree as a child. We all have special memories from our childhood days when we enjoyed time with family, siblings and friends. And each of these memories is linked to Christmas traditions – customs that are meant to make the festival even more enjoyable and significant. I am sure if you think closely, you will also recall the tradition of finding the pickle ornament as a child. The very idea of being the first to open a present inspired such competitiveness and fun into our minds. The feeling of elation as one of us eventually unearthed the ornament was instantly gratifying. And finally, after the ornament was found, we would get to open all the gifts and presents we had received from our loved one. Just thinking about those times is giving me happy Goosebumps.
The history of the pickle ornament tradition can be traced back to ancient Germany. Parents in the country have always decorated their Tannenbaums on Christmas eve. And the last ornament to be hung on the tree is die Weinachtsgurke-a delicate glass ornament in the shape of a pickle. The significance of the ornament is huge. Next morning, when the kids will all be rushing to open their gifts from Santa Claus, one of them will have to search for and locate this elusive gherkin. The festivities can begin only when the pickle ornament is found. This also means that no gift can be opened unless one of the kids locates the glass gherkin. And the child who finds it win an extra treat from the family!
But the true mystery of this custom is experienced when you look past the tradition and begin to trace it back to its source. Even though it is an accepted fact in America that the pickle ornament is actually a German Christmas tradition, there really isn’t much evidence to prove the same. In fact, people in Germany have never even heard of such a thing! Trees with lights, ornaments, and tinsel originated in Germany, but unless the Pickle Tradition was practiced in a remote region of the fatherland, it is likely that the legend was created at least in part by Americans, perhaps of German descent. The stories that depict exactly how the tradition came to be are even more elusive. Several tales are floating around, talking about the first time when the pickle ornament tradition was used as part of Christmas festivities. But there is virtually no proof as to which of them are true! All you have is the illustration of the story depicted on the box in which the Christmas pickle ornament you purchased was packed. Isn’t in odd?
In the end, all that can be said is that, authentic German or not, the Christmas pickle tradition has been a part of the childhood memories of every American child. You can visit Christmaspickletradition.com for more information on Christmas traditions.
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