Christmas stockings -
origins & trivia
There was a kindly nobleman whose wife had died of an
illness leaving the nobleman and his three daughters in
despair. After losing all his money in useless and bad
inventions the family had to move into a peasant's
cottage, where the daughters did their own cooking,
sewing and cleaning.
When it came time for the daughters to marry, the father
became even more depressed as his daughters could not
marry without dowries, money and property given to the
new husband's family.
One night after the daughters had washed out their
clothing they hung their stockings over the fireplace to
dry. That night Saint Nicholas, knowing the despair of
the father, stopped by the nobleman's house. Looking in
the window Saint Nicholas saw that the family had gone
to bed. He also noticed the daughters stockings.
Inspiration struck Saint Nicholas and he took three
small bags of gold from his pouch and threw them one by
one down the chimney and they landed in the stockings.
The next morning when the daughters awoke they found
their stockings contained enough gold for them to get
married. The nobleman was able to see his three
daughters marry and he lived a long and happy life. This is where we received the tradition of hanging christmas stockings for kids.
Children all over the world continue the tradition of
hanging Christmas stockings. In some countries children
have similar customs, in France the children place their
shoes by the fireplace, a tradition dating back to when
children wore wooden peasant shoes.
In Holland the children fill their shoes with hay and a
carrot for the horse of Sintirklass. In Hungary children
shine their shoes before putting them near the door or a
Italian children leave their shoes out the night before
Epiphany, January 5, for La Befana the good witch. And
in Puerto Rico children put greens and flowers in small
boxes and place them under their beds for the camels of
the Three Kings.
The first mention Christmas stockings being hung from or
near a chimney were made only earlier this century by
the illustrator, Thomas
Nast, through his pictures and the writer,
Clement Moore, in
a story about a 'visit
from St.Nick'. The story quickly caught on.
"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there"
Up until lately, it was traditional to receive small
items like fruit, nuts and candy in your stocking, but
these have been replaced in the last half-century by
more expensive gifts in many homes.
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