The tradition of hiding a pickle in your tree on Christmas evening is said to be based on an old German tradition in which the parents placed the pickle on the tree after the children went to bed. On Christmas morning the most observant child who found the pickle would get to open the first present. We have decided to continue that tradition this year with a pickle in our tree (okay, not a real pickle, but a plastic painted one instead).
Although the version on our ornament box was the German version, there are several other noble beginnings to the “pickle in the tree” story. One version, which began in the middle ages, tells of two young boys who stopped at an inn, and the innkeeper put them into a pickle barrel. Fortunately for them, St. Nicolas stopped at the same inn. Realizing the boys were trapped in the barrel, he tapped the sides and the boys were freed. Another modern version comes from the American Civil War era, where a young prisoner of war begged a guard for food, and was given a pickle. The pickle gave him strength to survive.
I am not sure if there is any truth to the stories, but the focus on good will to fellow mankind seems to be a common theme. So, I will be hiding the very green pickle in the boughs this year. Lets see who finds it first!