Christmas Stockings

Have you ever seen large stockings hanging from a fireplace at Christmas time? You can google pictures of Christmas Stockings and see lots of examples. There is a beautiful story of how the tradition began.

Folklore tells the story of a kind, rich European man whose wife had died of an illness leaving him and his three daughters in despair. Folklore is a noun; it means traditional stories that are not true but have a special meaning. After losing all his money the family had to move into a peasant’s cottage, where the daughters did their own cooking, sewing, and cleaning. A peasant’s cottage was a poor person’s house in Europe many years ago.

When it came time for the daughters to marry, the father became sad and depressed because his daughters could not marry without dowries. A dowry is money and property given to the new husband’s family. Are there still dowries in your home country?

One night after the daughters had washed their clothing, they hung their stockings over the fireplace to dry. That night Saint Nicholas, knowing the despair of the father, stopped by the house. Looking in the window Saint Nicholas saw that the family had gone to bed. He also noticed the daughters’ stockings.  Saint Nicholas took three small bags of gold from his pouch and threw them one by one down the chimney and they landed in the stockings. Pouch is a noun; it means a small bag.

The next morning when the daughters awoke, they found their stockings contained enough gold for them to get married. The man was able to see his three daughters marry and he lived a long and happy life.

Children all over the world continue the tradition of hanging Christmas stockings. The idea of Santa Claus came from this story of Saint Nicholas. Santa Claus is thought to put little presents in the stockings of good boys and girls.  If people have a fireplace, stockings are hung on Christmas Eve for Santa. They look magical. If a child doesn’t have a fireplace, he or she will put their stocking at the end of their bed.  People like to pretend that Santa Claus lives at the north pole and travels with a sled and many reindeer.

In our next blog, we will talk about candy canes.

Lesley Lawson