I don’t remember how old I was when I stopped picturing bright red caps with white spots when someone mentioned mushrooms. Perhaps when I started thinking of them as food instead of fairy furniture. But no matter how many shades of brown I imagine now, there is still something magical about those spotted red fungi.
On the Seventh Day of Imported Christmas, we learned that making our tree more adorable with tiny red mushrooms is, in fact, a German tradition.
The classic red and white toadstool—Amanita muscaria—is probably the most iconic mushroom ever, and certainly the cutest (but also toxic, so don’t get any funny ideas about eating them). In Germany, they are known as Glückspilz and are seen as a lucky omen. If you find one, you’ll have good fortune in the coming year. The association with Christmas could have come about because the mushroom tends to grow at the base of pine trees, or perhaps because people search for them around Christmas and the new year. Either way, if you pay attention, you’ll likely see these little mushrooms adorning people’s Christmas trees or frosted on yule logs.
I originally needle felted these little mushrooms for our fairy garden, but when I heard about the lucky mushroom tradition, I knew they would have a permanent place on our tree.
Interested in learning about more international Christmas traditions? Follow our 12 Days of Imported Christmas:
Twelve Days of Imported Christmas
- The First Day: Chichilaki—Georgia’s Shaved Christmas Tree
- The Second Day: Lotería de Navidad—Spain’s Communal Christmas Lottery
- The Third Day: Stargazy Pie—Cornwall’s Town-Saving Fish Dish
- The Fourth Day: Rellenong Manok—The Phillipines’ Elaborately Stuffed Christmas Chicken
- The Fifth Day: Himmeli—Finland’s Geometric Straw Ornaments
- The Sixth Day: Figgy Pudding—England’s Fiery Festive Centerpiece
- The Seventh Day: Glückspilz—Germany’s Lucky Mushroom
- The Eighth Day: Pumpple Cake—Philadelphia’s Quadruple Dessert
- The Ninth Day: Porchetta—Italy’s Decadent Pork Centerpiece
- The Tenth Day: Julkalender—Sweden’s Serialized TV Christmas Countdown
- The Eleventh Day: Peppermint Pig—Saratoga’s Shattered Sow
- The Twelfth Day: Ursul—Romania’s Bear Dance Festival