Christmas Traditions: The Strange and Highly Unusual

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When it comes to Christmas traditions, two come to mind.

The first is not unique to our family, but not as well-known as I once assumed.

Who has heard of the Christmas pickle?

Up until very recently, I thought everybody had! Then I saw a note from one of my editors in my upcoming manuscript (the scene involved the pickle), asking what in the world I was talking about. She had to look it up.

Supposedly, it’s an old German tradition, which would make sense. I come from hardy German stock. I grew up calling my great grandma and grandpa Oma and Opa, and I distinctly remember Oma yelling at Opa in German anytime she got upset.Β  They came to America on a boat as teenagers.

The funny truth, though, is that it’s not actually an old German tradition at all. The funny truth is that nobody is quite sure where this tradition comes from. All I know is that we have one and this is how it works.

First of all, you should know that it’s not food. It’s an ornament, and it comes in varying sizes. Someone hides the green pickle ornament on the tree and the first person to find it gets an extra special gift. We did this when I was younger and we do it now with our son, Brogan.

The second tradition is most definitely unique to my family.

And that tradition is egg salad.

What’s that? Egg salad, you say? On Christmas?

Yes, egg salad sandwiches on Christmas Eve, to be more exact.

Our family is quite large, with lots of aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins. And every Christmas Eve, for as long as I can remember, we hosted a giant party. It was the thing. The big event. The party my brother and my same-aged cousins and I would eagerly count down to with much anticipation. Because it. was. so. much. fun. It was the night we opened most of the gifts. The night we got to stay up to two in the morning (because the adults were playing cards in the basement). And we ate food! All kinds of food. A whole giant table-full of food.

And every single year,Β  part of that food included my aunt Peggy’s egg salad.

My aunt Peggy is more like a second mom than an aunt. As a kid, she lived with us. In elementary school, when you’re supposed to draw a picture of your family, my aunt Peggy was in every one. And every year the day before Christmas Eve, I remember her boiling eggs upon eggs upon eggs and peeling them in the sink. A sign that the long-anticipated party was upon us at last!

We still have our annual party. No longer at our house, but at my Uncle Paul and Aunt Lisa’s. Peggy still makes her egg salad. I eat it approximately once every year, on Christmas Eve.

What’s one of your Christmas traditions?

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23 thoughts on “Christmas Traditions: The Strange and Highly Unusual

  1. Mippy/Sabrina

    We decorate the tree every year, put up the Santa Claus card hanger thingy and display the nativities. It’s not Christmas if these items are not completed, at least not to me. πŸ™‚ Merry Christmas Katie! πŸ™‚

  2. Going to church, opening one present before bed and early morning rise enjoying stollen and hot cocoa while opening presents with youngest handing out gifts. This year! We are arriving from three states to a fourth to all be together with our three girls having work off at the same time. Blessings! Excited to see them together and the cousins.

  3. Sharon Miller

    Egg salad and Christmas pickle is quite a Christmas Eve menu.

  4. Cassie

    Well, we’re Hamms, so we always have LOTS of pigs everywhere, particularly on Christmas. We probably have like 50 pig ornaments and other various Christmas items around the house. And of course, on my dad’s cards, he always draws caricatures of us as pigs. That would be our weirdest Christmas tradition. πŸ™‚

  5. Judy bowman

    My Christmas traditions any more are not of my childhood. I always remember the school and Sunday School programs and feeling so grown up. With nine children in the family, there was not a lot of gifting, but what we did have was each other. Today, my children are all grown, celebrate in their own homes, at my request. I want them to have their own traditions and if they carry over from their childhood, so much the better. I love the quiet and serenity of the day alone. No better time to worship.

  6. Sonnetta Jones

    When my family were able to be together for Christmas we would be in the kitchen helping my mom bake bread, rum cakes( black cakes) and other Guyanese pastries. We could not wait to sample the bread with butter and hot chocolate. As we were baking my mom would be bee preparing pepperpot to eat with the bread in the morning. We also had the option of eating garlic pork. It was amazing. By the grace of God, we hope and pray that we can all be together again because we would celebrate like it is Christmas.

  7. Kelly Miller

    Probably the most remembered tradition for my family was sitting at the kitchen table,making handmade egg noodles with my mom that she would then cook in chicken stock, usually made from the chickens we raised. If I close my eyes I can feel the dough as I sat and unrolled them so they could dry, and that wonderful smell as they simmered on the stove. Dinner at 1:00 sharp. I called home every holiday at exactly 1:00pm from wherever I was stationed with the military. My mom is gone down, but someday, I may revive the noodle tradition..

  8. Martha Peace

    Love your books,would love to win,Thanks

  9. sparksofember

    I’ve seen Christmas pickles occasionally at the store and always wondered if it really was a thing. lol

    My mom would send us on a scavenger hunt every day on our advent calendar. We raced for the clues every morning.

  10. Bobbie

    We hide the pickle too. We’ve had to change the tradition to let the youngest look for it because the older ones almost knock over the tree..LOL We also do Christmas Eve at our house with my daughters and grandchildren. First we open stocking gifts, they are all wrapped and we go one at a time, in birth order. Then we eat Italian Beef sandwiches, chips, etc and then we open presents. Good times.

  11. Pam K.

    One of my Christmas traditions for the last 20 years or so, is making peppernut cookies with my daughter. We only make them at Christmas since it is a long process. We often give them as gifts.

  12. Melody Durant

    I love the PICKLE idea but not the egg salad so much!

  13. Kirsten

    Every Christmas season the first thing I put out is my Willow Tree Nativity which I started collecting about 8 years ago.
    Another tradition is making Monkey Bread for Christmas morning breakfast. Have you ever had it? I start with four cans of biscuits and cut each into 4 pieces and mix with cinnamon and sugar and put in a bundt pan. I pour a buttery caramel sauce over the biscuits and bake. Then you pull off a piece and eat! Delicious!

  14. Jeanette Parker

    There’s an awesome candy and nut store in town, they sell by the pound. Oh, the handmade fudge! We all meet there on Christmas Eve and everyone gets $5 to spend on the candy of their choice. It’s fun to see how the kids tastes change and what new treasures we find at the store. Plus it’s just fun to sample the Christmas goodies there!

  15. wilma

    grew up as a mk over seas…. so our thanksgiving was all the turkey and all the other stuff…but christmas we had all Spanish food.. my parents are gone but we still do it!

  16. Margaret Nelson

    Making fudge and sugar cookies are two of the food traditions. My cousin and I used to spend HOURS decorating the sugar cookies, and then would get upset when the adults would eat them in a couple of gulps πŸ™‚

  17. Elaine K

    My Christmas traditions have changed over the years – things we did as a child, things my family did when my sister and were single adults, changes when my sister married, and now many changes since I’ve married too. I will, however, probably always remember my childhood Christmases. We lived in the country and would cut down a tree on our property on Christmas Eve. My sister and I would do most of the decorating while Mom wrapped the gifts. Later that evening, we would open our gifts as a family. Special memories for sure!

    1. Elaine K

      Sorry…I hadn’t read the rules prior to entering! I’m not in the US! Great contest! Congratulations to whoever wins!

  18. Katrina Epperson

    Our biggest tradition is decorating the tree and sharing memories of family that we’ve lost or of previous Christmases then going to the kitchen and baking cookies. We open one gift on Christmas eve which always turns out to be
    Merry Christmas

  19. The night before Christmas Eve, we get everyone in their PJs, get hot chocolate (or coffee!) for everyone, load in the van, and drive around to look at Christmas lights! I usually like to play Christmas music, too, and this might be the first year my kids (6,6,5) can sing along.
    We have a pickle ornament, but we haven’t used it yet… Hmmm…

  20. Caryl Kane

    Katie, I enjoyed reading about your unusual Christmas traditions. My Daddy enjoyed oyster dressing. Nope, I didn’t eat any…

    Merry Christmas!

  21. Kathryn Voss

    Decorating the tree and making fudge are some of my favrite traditions. And being with family is so special too!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      I LOVE decorating the tree, Kathryn! Not a fan of taking it down, though! And I’ve never made fudge, but I sure like eating it! Thanks for stopping by today! πŸ™‚


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