The pickle ornament and 4 other Christmas traditions only Americans do

From rum-based eggnog to video Yule logs, these customs are seldom seen in the rest of the world

Many families have Christmas traditions, from opening gifts on December 24 to wearing matching pajamas for the holiday.

Some Christmas traditions found in the United States, however, leave the rest of the world scratching their heads in confusion.

In Michigan, it is a tradition to hang a pickle ornament on the Christmas tree. The first child to find the ornament Christmas morning gets an extra gift. The tradition was once thought to have origins in Germany, but that is not the case. The origin may come from Georgia. According to some, a German-born Union solider captured and held as a prisoner at Camp Sumter in Georgia begged for a pickle on Christmas Day. The guard gave him one and every year after his release he hung a pickle in his Christmas tree.

Credit: John Scott/Getty Images

Credit: John Scott/Getty Images

Pickle ornament

Every year, an ornament shaped like a pickle is the last to be hung on the tree. The first child to locate the pickle, hidden among the pine needles, on Christmas morning receives a special treat or extra gift.

Most people credit the Germans with starting this tradition, but a polling agency found 91% of that country’s residents had never heard of it.

Cranberry popcorn garland

Credit: Courtesy of TinkerLab

Credit: Courtesy of TinkerLab

Popcorn on Christmas trees

Germany started the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it, according to, in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Decorations for these trees were, understandably, made by hand. Outside trees had been decorated with berries, popcorn and nuts to feed the birds, said, and the custom continued with indoor trees.

Watching video of Yule log burning

Not everyone has a fireplace, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the ambiance of a burning Yule log.

Fred Tower, manager of WPIX-TV in New York City, wanted the station to do "something a little different and special" on Christmas Eve in 1966, according to Mental Floss. The station filmed the fireplace at Gracie Mansion, the residence of New York's mayor, and for three hours played a 17-second continuous loop of the burning Yule log.

That commercial-free broadcast turned out to be too expensive to continue, but versions of the burning Yule log can be found on YouTube, Netflix and numerous smart phone apps.

A reveller in a Santa costume drinks from a bottle of wine as she takes part in the annual "Santacon" outside Saint Paul's Cathedral in central London on December 14, 2013. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)



Drunken Santas

SantaCon began in the mid-1970s in San Francisco, but the party has spread to other states. Basically, hundreds (or thousands) of revelers dress as Santa or in other holiday costume and parade through a city while consuming alcohol.

Prairie Organic Vodka is a clean, creamy addition to any eggnog you’re looking to spike this holiday season.


Although this traditional Christmas drink is enjoyed around the world, the version with rum started in the Colonies. Rum from the Caribbean was much easier to get and less expensive, according to

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