Every year, families across the US and the UK hang up quirky little pickle1-shaped ornaments3 when it comes time to trim their Christmas trees.
The practice is favored by many English-speaking families, and is thought to be a centuries-old tradition brought over from Germany.
The tradition involves hiding the pickle ornament2 among the branches, and rewarding the child who finds it with the chance to open gifts first -- or, alternatively, that person simply gets good luck for the year.
In fact, it doesn't seem to have actually originated in Germany at all, since most Germans don't practice it.
A 2016 New York Times article pointed5 to a YouGov poll, in which 2,057 Germans were asked about the Christmas pickle.
The survey found that 91 percent had never even heard of it.
Another theory is that the tradition of hanging a pickle didn't actually start in Germany, but with a German immigrant in the US.
According to a 2011 edition of Tampa Bay magazine, one legend goes that a German man named John Lower, who was born in Bavaria in 1842, moved to the US and became ill when he was in prison during the Civil War.
He convinced a guard to give him a pickle as a last meal, but he ended up surviving. After being released, he honored that pickle by starting his own family tradition of hiding a pickle in his Christmas tree for the kids -- saying whoever found it would have the same good fortune he did.
Of course, that story is also unconfirmed, and could just be a tale that popped up to explain the pickles6 later on.
According to Wide Open Country, the whole pickle game was most likely a marketing7 ploy8 to sell German glass ornaments to Americans.
It was said to be concocted9 by F.W. Woolworth when the store began importing the ornaments in 1880. Each one would come with a card that told the story of the tradition.
Whether the tradition is real or manufactured, pickle ornaments have become quite ubiquitous.
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