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Small Michigan town is The Christmas Pickle Capital of the World

November 30 2022

Small Michigan town is The Christmas Pickle Capital of the World
Small Michigan town is The Christmas Pickle Capital of the World

 A Christmas Pickle is a decoration in the shape of a  pickle that is hidden on a Christmas tree. When the children were allowed to view the tree, they would begin searching for the Pickle ornament. The children knew that whoever first found that special ornament would receive an extra little gift left by St. Nicholas for the most observant child.  If the family could not afford such extras, the pickle finder was rewarded by being the first to open presents.  



         This tradition is commonly believed by Americans to come from Germany, but this is probably a myth. In fact, the tradition is largely unknown in Germany. It has been suggested that the origin of the Christmas pickle may have been developed for marketing purposes in the 1890s to coincide with the importation of glass Christmas tree decorations from Germany. Woolworths was the first company to import these types of decorations into the United States in 1890.

          In a small Michigan community of two thousand, called Berrien Springs, had an annual Christmas Pickle Festival is held during the early part of December now it's called "Kindle Your Christmas Spirit".  The older generation from Berrien Springs recall from their youth always having pickles on their trees.  With this area of Michigan being a pickle-producing region, Berrien Springs is recognized as the Christmas Pickle Capital of the World by the Pickle Packers International.  They celebrate with a parade kickoff led by the Grand Dillmeister, who passes out fresh pickles along the parade route.  A Christmas Pickle Ornament can be purchased from the Museum Store, or for the more adventurous, even a pair of gurken earrings or Chocolate-Covered Sweet Pickles can be had.

While the festival folded in the 2000s, the memories were kept alive thanks to the internet and travel books like Weird Michigan. In 2021, the Village of Berrien Springs, the Berrien Springs Community Library, and the Berrien County Historical Association partnered to bring back the Festival. With a successful inaugural year that saw nearly 2,000 attendees from all over, the festival will be held annually on July 4th on the grounds of the History Center at Courthouse Square and the library. The introduction of the Pickle Preview Weekend in 2022 allows for the Festival to kick off pickle season with the annual In a Pickle 5K and the Pickle Festival Pageant. Additional events will be introduced each year alongside old favorites and we encourage you to follow our Facebook page to stay in the know!



  • Cliff Stepp: May 08, 2019
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    Grandma’s Christmas Pickle Song.
    The tradition of the Christmas Pickle brings fond memories of Grandma and Christmases past. Along with a briny barrel full of puns that you will relish. https://youtu.be/pFfpe481EC8

  • jan burda: December 25, 2015
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    It’s so easy to ID someone from Berrien Springs, eg. “Terri”. People stop in my store with “I’ve lived here all my life, I’m a guitar player…..how long have you been been here?” (23 years). Or phone calls “How do I get to your store?” (from right down the block). I’m so tempted to respond w/“You just can’t get here, from there.” That’s Berrien Springs.

  • Debra: December 19, 2015
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    i grew up in Berrien and graduated from there on 74 and this did not start until after the 80’s … But it is a fun time now shared with family’s and has become a fun tradition

  • Alicia jimenez: December 18, 2015
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    I have loved in Michigan within 10 minutes drive from berries springs for 34 years… Never in my life have I EVER heard of such nonsense. There is no pickle parade, no grand dillmeister, and no museum and I’m pretty positive that there has never been a pickle manufacturing plant in berrien springs. Don’t know where you got your info but somebody lied to you.

  • Greg: December 18, 2015
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    A fun tradition, I remember participating in the pickle toss competition. Berrien Springs is a great small town!

  • Erica: December 18, 2015
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    I agree. I lived in Berrien Springs from 1981-1994, I know of a few people who have a pickle ornament in their tree every year but I have never heard of a Christmas Pickle Festival.

  • Jen: December 18, 2015
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    I’m from Berrien Springs and they’ve had this festival for years. They were certainly ahead of their time and now fried pickles are all the crazy! I live out of town now but had the pleasure of attending of the pickle parade about 8 years ago. It was hilarious, instead of tossing candy out to the crowd, they actually tossed individually wrapped large dill pickles! HEADS UP!

  • Terri: December 18, 2015
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    I lived in Berrien Springs for 7 years in the 70s and 80s…..graduated from BSHS. I have never heard of the Christmas Pickle Festival or tradition.

  • Matt: December 17, 2015
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    Now I can say that I was in a pickle when I grew up in Berrien Springs.

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