A Pickle of a Tradition:  In Berrien Springs, Michigan

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Your RovingRaconteurs have never, ever, been to Berrien Springs, Michigan.  And even though we had lived in Michigan for several years, we never even heard of Berrien Springs!!!  By golly, we should have!!!  Berrien Springs happens to be a cucumber growing area where pickles are a local specialty!!!  We love pickles—all kinds of pickles!!!  How did we not know???  This small town, settled by German immigrants, is known far and wide as the “Christmas Pickle Capital of the World”!!! 

We have never been to Berrien Springs but it looks like an interesting location (do you see it upper right). Near a city and not too far from the lake.
Berrien Springs is a farming area. It is spread out and appears quite large for a population of only 1,800. (Mackd, Wiki Commons, Public domain)
Berrien Springs has long been a center of cucumber farming.
For a long time, the community held a pickle festival at Christmastime to celebrate the tradition. In 2016, after years of inactivity, the celebration was re-ignited as a 4th of July parade event. This is their picklelogo!!! (Wikipedia)
We happen to love pickles. As you can see, an impromptu raid of the refrigerator produced quite an assortment!!!

Wait, what’s a Christmas Pickle?

According to the legend:  the last ornament hung on the Christmas Tree should be a delicate glass ornament in the shape of a pickle.  On Christmas morning, the festivities cannot begin until someone finds that ornament and earns the honor of opening the first gift—perhaps a special gift that commemorates the find.

A green ornament in a green tree can be hard to see!!!

OK, what’s the legend?

Well, it all starts with the Christmas Tree.  You probably already know the Christmas Tree is said to have begun in Germany.  And it’s a fact that the first ornaments used by Germans to decorate Christmas Trees were fruits and nuts.  It didn’t take long for skilled artisans and entrepreneurs to start creating beautiful glass baubles in the shapes of fruits and nuts for the trees.  And their imaginations flowed from there!!!

Now, no one knows for sure how the Christmas Pickle legend began.  One account tells of two young boys traveling home from boarding school for Christmas.   They stopped at an Inn on Christmas Eve and somehow wound up trapped in a pickle barrel.  Santa, making his rounds that night, found and freed the boys.  They made it home for Christmas!!! 

Or there is this account:  A German-born Union soldier fighting in the Civil War was captured and sent to a Confederate prison in Georgia.  In poor health and starving, the prisoner begged for just one pickle before he died.  A merciful guard took pity and found him a pickle.  He lived.  And upon returning home he would celebrate his good fortune every Christmas by putting a special ornament on the tree and promising good fortune (perhaps in the form of a special gift) to the one who found it.

And so,

Did the legend of the Christmas Pickle spring from one of these stories?  Or did an ornament in the shape of a pickle generate the stories?  Ha, it’s a trick question because there is no right answer. 

No one knows!!!

But the Christmas Pickle endures. 

The Christmas Pickle

It’ a Big Dill!!!

Whether you find a hidden pickle on Christmas morning, or not,

We wish you good fortune and happiness.

Merry Christmas