Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 8 - How to spot the pickle

A few days ago I asked Trevor to show me the Christmas ornaments that he has. Shipping my collection will be problematic so I wanted to see if I could rely on his to satisfy my Christmas craving. It turns out that he has some adorable pieces that he collected throughout the years, including a starfish Santa, knitted moccasins, a wooden nutcracker and a Christmas dinosaur (don't ask!).

The first thing that he pulled out of the box was a gherkin. Now I know Trevor likes food but hanging a gherkin seems a little bit random. If anything, I would've expected him to whip out some felt bacon. It turns out that the Christmas tree pickle (weihnachtsgurk) is an old German-American tradition. Trevor takes pride in his German-Welsh heritage.

The tradition says that the first child to find the pickle on Christmas morning gets an extra present or is blessed with good luck in the new year. If the family doesn't have children, the good luck is bestowed upon the first guest to spot it, which is tricky because the gherkin is always green and it blends in the decor.

Even though Americans regard this as a German tradition, the Germans themselves insist that it was the Americans who came up with it at the turn of the 19th century, when magnate F.W. Woolworth first used this "tradition" to jump-start the sale of imported glass ornaments. In other words, a classic case of "I don't want nuthin' to do with your gherkin, you creep" or "I don't vant mein picklehidden". The Germans reverse-imported it from the U.S. after this advertising gimmick worked so well.

You can probably notice that my research was quite thorough because we take our pickles very seriously around here (seriously, we elect them in public office). Academic articles have been written about the renegade pickle controversy, which, frankly, I think should be the title of a Big Bang Theory episode.

When Trevor heard my researched he was stunned:

Trevor: You mean an American capitalist taking advantage of gullible people to make lots of money. That never happens!!!

how to find the christmas tree gherkin pickle in the decorations

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