Hiding the Pickle: Goofy Christmas Traditions

Many of us have those special holiday traditions that others find strange. Here are a few from around the world!


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Some handcrafted Caga Tio Logs being sold at a Christmas market

by Ken Goodrich, Reporter

Starting off strong, “The Pooping Log”, or “Tió de Nadal” : Originating from Catalonia (Spain), Caga Tió (the pooping uncle) is a smiling cut piece of wood with little leg stands; usually, he is shown to wear a red sock hat (traditional Catalan barretina), and has a blanket over the backside of him to keep him warm. On Christmas Eve, underneath the blanket will be many presents that he has defecated for the awaiting children. These presents are usually inexpensive, and some examples include nuts, sweets, and Turrón. Until this time, he is fed kitchen scraps from feasts. 

However, to encourage the log to ‘pass’ the presents, the children will need to pray and sing songs such as “Caga Tió, hazelnuts and turrón, if you don’t poop, we will hit you with a stick”. Usually the children will do this in another room, so it gives relatives the opportunity to hide the presents and delicious sweets under the blanket. 

“The Fortune Pickle”, or “Weihnachtsgurke” : From the article’s title, you may be wondering “what does ‘hiding the pickle’ even mean”? Well, from personal experience, our tradition is for my parents to hide a glass pickle ornament in the Christmas tree (der Weihnachtsbaum). This has to be the final ornament on the tree, and is usually hidden during the night of Christmas Eve (der Heiligabend). Before opening presents, my brother and I have to find it.

The Christmas Pickle being observed by my dog Meatball (her eyes filled with holiday joy) (Ken Goodrich)

The green of the pickle and the tree needles blend almost perfectly, making it near impossible to find. On average, it takes five to even ten minutes to comb through the tree for one of us to spot it. The child who finds the pickle receives an extra present, gets to start opening presents first, and the next year brings good fortune to them. For background context, this tradition is believed to have started in Germany back in the 16th Century. “Weihnachtsgurke” is a direct translation to ‘Christmas Cucumber” (Weihnachts is Christmas, Gurke means cucumber). 

Can you spot our Christmas Pickle? (Ken Goodrich)

“Little Spiders”, or “Pavuchky” : Recognized in Poland, Germany, and Ukraine, finding a spider or a spider’s web on a Christmas tree is deemed to bring good fortune. This tradition is estimated to have started in the late 1800’s or the early 1900’s, but the exact origin is said to be unknown. These little guys are usually made of paper and wire, colorful, and sometimes beaded, usually made with a web of tinsel.