Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Legend of the Christmas Pickle

When I was in the fifth grade my teacher told us about an old German tradition - the Christmas Pickle.  Every Christmas a special ornament shaped like a pickle was hidden within the branches of the tree and whichever lucky child found the pickle first received an extra treat from Santa.  And in one of my favorite school activities ever, we got to make our own pickle ornaments.  We used a green air-dry clay and little, black beads for their cute little pickle eyes.  I thought they were the best thing ever.

So I proudly took my pickle home and shared the story with my family, who found it just as delightful as I did.  Mom hid the pickle and come Christmas Eve, the hunt was on.  I didn't have any competition that first year, as my little sister was not yet with us, but it was fun anyway - and challenging!  Pickles have excellent camouflage for hiding in trees, let me tell you.

And so, the Christmas Pickle became a cherished family tradition.  Alas, over the years, the mice developed a fondness for the pickle as well and ate much of his adorable backside.  My mother happened to find a glass pickle ornament, and though it certainly held up to the mice better, it lacked that adorable pickle face.  It had no pickle personality.  And I kept thinking, "I should make a new pickle!"  But by the time I thought of it, I was usually ensconced in making gifts and goodies and all that holiday madness and just didn't have the time.

Now I'm approaching my second Christmas in my new home, and while we're making our own traditions there are many that I've brought with me.  I'll soon be making buckeye balls, and I'm thinking about whipping up a cheese ball too.  We've got a ham to cook and a carton of egg nog.  And yesterday, I made a pickle.

I happened to remember that I'd bought some green polymer clay, so I whipped it out and sculpted this little guy.  The eyes are glass beads, and I used an orange stick to give him some pickley dimples and add the rest of his features.  After baking I gave him a thin coat of acrylic paint - in Metallic Christmas Green, of course.  I didn't have any red ribbon on hand, so I just made him a wire hanger for now.  

I'm so pleased with how he turned out that I'm already planning on making more - one for my family to replace their bland, expressionless, glass pickle and some to sell to pickle-less families around the world.  Ok, so I'm a little late for this year, but it's definitely on my to-do list for next year!

And now I'm just dying to know - do any of you hunt for the Christmas Pickle?  What other wacky Christmas traditions do you have?  Or not-so-wacky?  Share your stories in the comments!


  1. My weird tradition is watching While You Were Sleeping and Love Actually. :D

  2. That's not weird - it's wonderful! :D

  3. that is so cute, and a great Christmas tradition. I didn't grow up with a tree, but I think it's great for little kids. Love all the different, SIMPLE traditions that there are! Happy Holidays! {:-Deb

  4. We love our pickle ornament. I actually used an old pickle jar and made a customized label. I love to open it because although it's been washed in the dishwasher it still has the pickle scent. I posted a picture of it on my blog. I made a pickle ornament out of clay and glass beads one year too, but it's not nearly as cute as yours and it was SO heavy! I've been wanting to experiment with it some more and I really wanted it to have a face, like the little veggie tales guys. When I saw yours I thought, that's it!

  5. Storybeader: Me too! :)

    Lofts Family: Aww, thanks! I'm glad you like it. :) And I love the idea of the jar! I may just have to make a home for this little guy the next time we finish of a jar of pickles. ;) Thank you for your comment! It's always nice to hear from another Christmas pickle enthusiast. :D