The story behind the Christmas pickle tradition

NOW: The story behind the Christmas pickle tradition

BERRIEN SPRINGS, Mich. -- Each year, many children across the country wake up on Christmas morning searching for some gifts under the tree. But some little kids, might be looking for a little extra touch of green.

The Christmas pickle! Legend has it, whoever finds the Christmas pickle hidden inside the tree gets an extra surprise for Christmas morning! But how did such a tradition come to be? We wanted answers, and there was only one place to go.

The Christmas pickle capital of the world! Welcome to…Berrien Springs.

“What most historians believe is there was a very, very enterprise salesman at Woodworth department store who was trying to push these beautiful hand-blown glass vegetable ornaments but no one wanted the pickle, so created this sort of didn’t you know kind of situation or this would be great to add,” says Rhiannon Cizon, Executive director of the Berrien County Historical Association.  

While many believe the Christmas pickle tradition to be from Germany, according to the Berrien County Historical Association, it is an American festivity. For nearly 150 years, families have been hiding pickle ornaments inside their trees after what was believed to be one salesman’s push for the pickle…and it is safe to say it stuck! But why is Berrien Springs the home for this harvest?

 “There is no certainty why Berrien springs got that tradition but we got it and the town embraced it.”

Berrien County has been known for its fruit and vegetable distributors, including the pickle industry! So, Pickle Packers International declared Berrien Springs the pickle capital of the world in the mid 90’s.

In 1995, the town had their first ever pickle festival parade which ended up being a four daylong event! The festive fun continued every year until the mid-2000s – that was when the pickle lost its flavor. But still, many of the traditions remain in Berrien Springs! The town hosts a pickle festival, now on the fourth of July and also sells all things pickle in the BCHA gift shop!

“It is fun, on the surface it seems silly because it is a pickle these are things you snack on but people love it and they get excited about it and it is fun to see.”

While the past few years have ended gatherings or events for some, one thing has always stayed the same -- family traditions. And here in Berrien Springs, traditions like the Christmas pickle are here to stay!

“This is one of those traditions that can even survive a pandemic, most people still put their tree up and it is something that can survive even a global pandemic.”

Learn more about BCHA here.  

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