Christmas 2007 was my last Christmas as an unmarried person. Tim and I became engaged that summer and although we had already taken turns spending the holidays with each other’s family, we decided that for our last Christmas as single people, we would be apart. Tim flew down from Philly to see his family in Tallahassee, Florida. I flew to central Illinois to spend Christmas with mine.
While visiting home, my mom took me to the C.H. Moore Homestead in Clinton, Illinois. I vaguely remembered touring the historic mansion in my youth, but it had been many years since I had been there and touring historic homes was a mother-daughter activity we had always enjoyed. While visiting the home, I remember our guide describing the Victorian-era tradition Americans had adopted from Germany of having a pickle ornament on the Christmas tree. The way I remember him explaining it, the parents moved the ornament after the children had gone to sleep on Christmas Eve. Whichever child found it first on Christmas morning got to open the first present.
C.H. Moore Homestead as decorated for Christmas during my 2007 visit.
I came home very excited to introduce a pickle ornament to the holiday traditions of my newly forming family. When the next Christmas rolled around, I looked for pickle ornament knitting patterns (the only ones I could find looked a little, how should I say this, un-picklelike). However, the girlfriends in my knitting group knew I wanted one, and I received a traditional pickle ornament in our gift exchange that year.
Recently, I tried to research the origins of this tradition and everything I’ve found has be inconclusive. In fact, the tradition may not have started in Germany at all. Also, different accounts say different things about the child who first discovers the pickle ornament on Christmas morning. Some reports say the child is given an additional present, or is just said to have good fortune for the next year.
Fast forward to 2014 and our daughter is now three years old. I think this is the first year she’s old enough to understand the concept of looking for the pickle ornament before opening presents on Christmas morning. Since she’s an only child (at least for a few more weeks), she won’t really be rewarded as the first to open presents–she’ll likely be the first to open presents anyway–but I look forward to introducing the Christmas pickle ornament tradition for years to come. “Hiding” it on the tree is a little something fun for Mom and Dad on Christmas Eve, and I hope our children will enjoy searching for the pickle on Christmas morning just as I imagined the children of the beautiful C.H. Moore Homestead doing so many years ago.
Looking for more Christmas ideas? Over the next week, 25 bloggers will be sharing their creative ideas with you for recipes, decor, crafts, printables, and holiday traditions. Each day 5 new posts will go live so make sure you come back to check them out! At the end of our 25 Blogs of Christmas, we will be hosting a HUGE giveaway for a $250 Amazon Gift Card!