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It's beginning to look a lot like . . . pickle ornaments? [Eagle Archives}

It's beginning to look a lot like . . . pickle ornaments? [Eagle Archives}
(Photo by Kevin Dayhoff)

At the Carroll County Farm Museum holiday house tour and open house on Dec. 5, museum volunteer Michele Crew distributed glass pickles to the volunteers in attendance.

I have a very vague recollection of hearing about a glass pickle Christmas tree ornament while growing-up in Carroll County.

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According to an old piece of paper of unknown origin in my battered Christmas decorations box, "The pickle ornament was considered a special tree decoration by many families in Germany. There, the fir tree was decorated on Christmas Eve."

My box of Christmas decorations has been handed down through several generations. The origin of most of the stuff inside it has been lost to time and memory. However, this mysterious piece of paper does not say that a pickle ornament "was always the last ornament to be hung on the Christmas tree, with the parents hiding it in the green boughs among the other ornaments.

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"When the children were allowed to view the tree on Christmas morning they would begin gleefully searching for the pickle ornament. For they knew that whoever first found that special ornament would receive an extra little gift left by St. Nicholas for the most observant child."

Apparently the tradition of the glass pickle is making a comeback. Some media accounts suggest that the child that finds the glass pickle will have good luck for the following year.

It would only make sense if the German holiday tradition of hanging a glass pickle in the Christmas tree were a part of Carroll County's holiday traditions.

In an article about Christmas traditions in Carroll County written by Jay Graybeal for the Historical Society a number of years ago, he noted that "[m]any of our modern day Christmas customs can be traced to the Victorian period. Decorating the house with greens, the Christmas tree and parties were all popular by the mid-nineteenth century."

However, before the reign of Queen Victoria in England, Christmas trees, decorations and many of the traditions we currently accept as commonplace, were very controversial.

In the 16th century, John Calvin particularly objected to celebrating Christmas — and Easter, for that matter. It was his conviction that these celebrations promoted "irreligious frivolity."

Paradoxically, it was during this time period that the Germans were actively beginning a tradition of decorating a Christmas tree in the home for the holiday.

In early America, Christmas decorations and other such frivolities were somewhat still discouraged. However, with the Carroll County area having been first settled in the south by Catholics, and Germans in northern Maryland, Christmas tree decorations were better accepted.

Nevertheless, it was the reserved Queen Victoria who began a tradition of a decorated Christmas tree, no doubt, as a result of her husband, Prince Albert — who just happened to be German.

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