As it gets closer to the time when I’ll start dusting off last year’s Christmas decorations, I just had to stop and think about all the traditions I’m building with my boys and I remember so fondly from my childhood. One of them is the whole Christmas stockings thing and how even as an adult, the site of the lumpy Christmas morning sock just makes me happy (the Godiva chocolate was great last year, Dave… hint hint!)
So, I’ve done a little research and here is a quick review of the history of the Christmas Stocking. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy 🙂
A brief History of the Christmas Stocking
Christmas stockings today are created from fabric, felt, and wool. They’re decorated with fringe, tassels, glitter, lace, ribbon, beads, and even small ornaments. Colors of Christmas stockings include not only the traditional red, green, and white, but also deep shades of navy blue, royal purple, pink, blue, and everything in between. Christmas stockings can also be found in several different patterns, which means there is a stocking unique for every person.
How did Christmas stockings come to hang on the mantel above the fireplace? The most prevalent legend is one of a sweet, gentle, and poor nobleman who was blessed with three daughters. Sadly, his wife had passed away, leaving him to raise and care for his three daughters alone. He invested poorly in useless inventions and ended up living practically in poverty.
When his daughters had finally reached marrying age, he realized they didn’t have dowries, which meant they would not be eligible for marriage. In those days, in order for a young lady to be married, it was required that she bring a healthy dowry into the marriage. The father was in despair and didn’t know what to do for his three girls.
One night, as the legend goes, the daughters had washed out their stockings and hung them on the fireplace mantel to dry. Saint Nicholas knew of the father and his plight. Having compassion on the father and his three daughters, Saint Nicholas visited the home of the nobleman once everyone had retired for the night and noticed the daughters’ stockings by the fire.
Saint Nicholas knew right then what he wanted to do for the father and three daughters. He retrieved three small bags of gold coins from his pouch. He tossed each bag of gold down chimney until there was one in each of the daughters’ stockings.
The next morning, the daughters were thoroughly delighted to discover not only dry stockings, but also the gold coins within! They and their father realized that the dowries the daughters so desperately needed to get married had mysteriously and magically provided for them. The legend goes on to say that the daughters married well and the nobleman lived a long and fulfilling life.
Regardless of the manner in which the Christmas stocking came to signify giving and receiving of gifts, they are now considered a traditional decoration in many homes. As we all know, gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the most precious gifts are small, such as the gold coins mentioned in the legend. Other gifts are larger and perhaps cannot fit into a Christmas stocking.
Fill your stockings this year with fun surprises of years gone by just for fun. Pieces of fruit, homemade cookies or candy, small drawings from children, homemade clay ornaments, whistles, hand-carved wooden toys, or homemade soaps wrapped in a fanciful bow or paper will bring smiles from friends and family members of all ages.
Other popular Christmas stocking stuffers today are sweet smelling lotions, cologne, fancy shoelaces, peanuts, chocolate-covered cherries, fudge, coffee or tea packets, key chains, magnets, and flashlights. No matter what gifts you use to stuff your stockings, enjoy the fun of re-creating the legend of the Christmas stocking right in your own home.
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