A History: The handblown glass ornaments were first created 60 miles north of Nuerenberg in the German village named Lauscha. Then, it was a cottage industry craft--the ornaments were blown and finished in a workshop attached to someone's home. All members of the family helped paint and finish them. A normal work day was 15-16 hours, six days a week. Depending on size and complexity, 300-600 balls a week can be produced. In the 1820s, Lauscha came upon economic ruin. Some glass blowers began to refine the craft and make it into Christmas balls, called Kugeln. The first written record of the Christmas tree balls was in 1848. This became Lauscha's economic salvation.
This is a tradition that my own family follows. Every year, a glass pickle is hidden in the Christmas tree, and the first child to find the pickle receives a special present. As the children get older, the pickles get smaller.