There is an old tale that says there is a German tradition of hiding a pickle on the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, and whoever finds it on Christmas Day receives on extra present. But there's a lot of doubt about that. The Germans don't seem to know anything about this custom except what they've been told by the Americans. It seems to really have started with a man in prison during the Civil War. He is close to dying and asks for one last pickle before he dies, (yeah, right, a pickle!). The guard gives him a pickle, which gives him the strength to go on, and after the war is over, he writes to his family in Germany, telling them of the life-saving pickle. They make it a tradition to hang a pickle ornament on the tree each year to celebrate his survival. The tradition never catches on in Germany, but somehow makes it's way back to the United States as a rather comical Christmas tradition which no one call really explain, but which everyone enjoys. With this little history lesson, we will proceed to create our own Christmas Pickle.
I have found through trial and error, that Crayola Model Magic is just about the best stuff to make the pickle from. It's a very light-weight, air-drying type of clay (which is not really clay) and its easy to work with. It comes is colors, when you can find them, but I just use the white and paint it. Take about a 2" ball of model magic and roll it around in your hands to get it warm and workable. Start rolling it between your hand until you have a hot dog shape about the size of a pickle. Now put a slight curve in it and use a toothpick to make a few grooves, not too deep, and some little pock-marks. Form a little time ball for the nose, and fasten it to the pickle about an inch down from the top. Above the nose, make two indentations with the toothpick. This is where you will glue the eyes. Last of all, push a little eyehook or a hairpin into the top for hanging it by.
Now, let it dry according to the instructions on the package. When dry, paint with green paint, and a little yellow for some highlights. Glue two small black beads in the eye indentations and tie a ribbon through the hanging loop. I like to tie a piece of curly curling ribbon on the hook, too, to add a little decoration. Spray with clear acrylic spray, and your pickle is ready be hidden in your tree. I also like to make a little bag to keep it in so it stays nice. I put a little paper crinkle in the bottom for cushion, and this all makes the pickle seem really special. Whether its a German tradition, an American tradition, or no real tradition at all, it has surely become one to a lot of folks, who play I Spy on Christmas morning so they can be the one who finds that pickle! If you would like to see a cute video about Christmas pickles, go to :
I hope you will add the Christmas pickle to your family's traditions. Whether real or not, its fun.
And remember what Albert Einstein said; "I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Inspiration is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." Use your imagination a create a pickle for your tree. 'Night, Gramma G.