One rumor tells of a Bavarian-born Union soldier fighting in the Civil War named John Lower (or perhaps Hans Lauer) who was captured and sent to prison in Georgia. In poor health and starving, the prisoner begged for just one pickle before he died. A merciful guard took pity and found him a pickle. Miraculously, John lived, and after he returned home he began the tradition of the Christmas Pickle, promising good fortune to the one who found the special ornament on Christmas Day.
The first ornaments used by Germans to decorate Christmas Trees were fruits, particularly apples, and nuts. These, along with the evergreen tree itself, represented the certainty that life would return in the spring. In the mid-eighteen hundreds, a few enterprising individuals living in the village of Lauscha (in the present-day state of Thuringen) began selling glass ornaments. Using fruit and nut molds at first, they eventually branched out, adding thousands of molds to their repertoire: angels, bells, saints, hearts, stars, and so on.