Flint’s Curious: What’s with Pickle Christmas Ornaments?
Every trip my family makes to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, MI... Two questions always come up:
- I wonder how much Bronner's electric bill could be?
- Why does Bronner's sell pickle ornaments and have a whole tree dedicated to pickles? (More on that in a bit.)
Why do people hang pickle ornaments on their Christmas tree?
- Every bit of research I've done on this subject leads to a different origination story, but all of them end with the same reason: the first person to find the hidden pickle ornament, on Christmas morning, would receive another gift from Santa and/or would receive a year of good fortune.
Did the Christmas Pickle Ornament tradition start in Michigan?
- While the tradition did not start in Michigan, one city in the state celebrates in a big way. According to Wikipedia, Berrien Springs, Michigan called itself the Christmas pickle capital of the world -- holding a Pickle Parade every year from 1992-2005. That parade started up again in 2021. The area is known for making pickles (like Imlay City, MI) and was originally settled by many German immigrants.
How did the pickle Christmas ornament tradition begin?
There are numerous thoughts on how the tradition originated. Here are a handful of the most popular urban legends:
- Most popular 1: A captured German American soldier was saved from starving to death when he asked a guard for a pickle on Christmas Eve during the Civil War.
- Most popular 2: A German tradition immigrants brought to the United States
- This one is disturbing, St Nick supposedly resurrected or saved two boys put in a pickle barrel to die by some innkeeper. (Weird)
- Parents possibly started it to slow down the opening of gifts. So, kids would be more appreciative.
- Martha Stewart even weighed in. She leans toward believing it was a manufactured marketing idea when German glass Christmas ornaments were first introduced to the United States in the 1800s.
In short, even the interweb doesn't know for sure. So, I checked in with the largest Christmas store in the world right here in Frankenmuth, MI, Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, to see what they might know.
World's Oldest Santa School Here In MI
Does Bronner's Christmas Wonderland sell Christmas pickle ornaments?
Bronner's Communications Assistant, Lori Libka, tells me they sell about 5,100 pickle ornaments every year. The most popular is the mini glass pickle ornament -- selling around 2,000 units annually.
Libka reminded me of an interview she did with MLive and mentioned the Christmas pickle tradition was believed 'to have started in Germany, but many Germans say they've never heard of it.'
Is there a Christmas pickle game?
- It's such a popular tradition, Bronner's even sells 'The Christmas Pickle Game.' And almost like Uno, your family decides how it's played.
My preference is for deep fried pickle slices with a side of ranch, but I'll celebrate pickles at Christmas, too. No matter the origin, people are passionate about their pickles at Christmastime in Michigan and around the world.