The first Christmas that I shared with my husband was incredibly memorable. Because, well — we had to start from scratch. Even though we lived together for years prior to making it official, every piece of decor seemed like a fresh start. Most of our ornaments were picked out at Target that same year and don’t hold any significance aside from being the first. One of those ornaments happens to be a pickle. At the time of purchase, I figured it was because pickles are great. But as we decorated the tree, he told me there was more to it.
“You never had the ‘finding the pickle’ tradition with your family?” he asked. I hadn’t. Belz family traditions included assembling the fake tree while listening to the Barbra Streisand Christmas album. Pickles had nothing to do with it.
The tradition, officially called Weihnachtsgurke, reportedly has German roots — even though The New York Times reports that most Germans haven’t even heard of it.
It’s typically celebrated in families with multiple siblings. Parents hide a pickle on the holiday tree, and the first kid to find it is granted a year of good luck, and sometimes gets a special gift as well.
For my husband, who is the oldest of two, getting the pickle ornament was more about the tradition of it. When his sister visited that first year, she knew exactly what the pickle was about and found it pretty quickly on the tree. As pickle ornaments are becoming more and more common (with The New York Times stating they’re the third most popular design), it makes sense for the tradition to keep spreading.
So next time you spot a pickle on someone’s tree, know that it symbolizes more than just a love for Half-Sours. It’s also a way to bring family together.