Holiday Traditions- Pickle Hunting

By Sophie Gordon

RichterkessingAt the beginning of each Christmas morning, rather than beginning with the opening of presents, junior Maddie Richterkessing searches for a pickle. Hidden within the Christmas tree, among the many ornaments, is a pickle ornament waiting to be claimed by one of the Richterkessing family youths.

“Getting to hunt for the pickle is probably the most fun,” Maddie said. “Getting to dig in the tree is fun.”

Maddie and her cousins dig in the tree for the elusive pickle. Each searches for the ornament, hoping to spot it before someone else. Finally, a winner emerges and is handed a gift card, the prize for finding the pickle.

“I’ve found it three times,” Maddie said. “[It made me] really really happy because I got an extra gift that I wasn’t expecting to get.”

The tradition started when Maddie’s parents received the pickle at a holiday party. From the “Rob Your Neighbor” type game, the Richterkessings returned home with a pickle ornament that included history about the German tradition of hiding a pickle in the tree. The family decided to try it, and it has been a tradition ever since.

“It’s really intense moment,” Maddie said. “You feel kind of rushed. It’s a really intense feeling.”

One year, Maddie searched for the pickle early. She scanned the tree for the ornament while her mother was out walking the dogs.

“I looked for the pickle early, but my dad caught me and said I couldn’t participate that year,” Maddie said. “I like participating, so I don’t do that anymore.”

In addition to hiding the pickle, the Richterkessings also have a tradition of hanging a “Creepy Santa” portrait over the mantel.

“When my mom hangs that up, Christmas has officially started at our house,” Maddie said.