On Monday of this week I happened to walk into a little shop in Centerville, Utah, called The Edleweiss. All sorts of unusual European gifts, one-of-a-kinds, handmade, and eye-catching, appeared before me, having taken over most every inch of space on walls, floors, and tables. A little while later after discussion with the friendly shop owners, I walked out with a tiny new ornament for our tree, something I hadn’t known I wanted before going in. The ornament is a pickle. Evidently, an old German tradition is to hide a pickle on the tree, and whoever finds it first on Christmas gets a special prize. I haven’t figured out that part about a prize yet, but know we need a pickle to widen our understanding of Christmas around the world. There will probably be a family member interested enough to pursue “the rest of the story”on the pickle; I’ll just be an instigator. It was a mere coincidence that I entered the shop on Dec. 6th, a holiday known as Saint Nicholas Day and celebrated in various ways around the world.

At Simple Homeschool today, there’s a nice article about Christmas Around the World by Heidi Scovel, and she gives more ideas about activities to incorporate and enrich our own family traditions. Chocolate gold coins found in little shoes could rank as an important one for little people. A picture of those gold coins brought to mind how my parents regularly included chocolate gold coins in the packages they sent at Christmas when we lived away. Come to think of it, my mother’s heritage is Dutch, and yup, Wikipedia confirmed that gold coins were said to have been left in shoes by Sinterklaas in the Netherlands. He had a reputation for secret gift giving, and he became the model for Santa Claus. I certainly learned this somewhere along the way and have forgotten it, because every year we place a pair of long-preserved wooden shoes near our fireplace. I just haven’t put anything in them before. Well, I’ll have to fix that!