Christmas Stocking History
From Yule Festivals and St. Nick
Christmas stockings are as as much a part of the holidays as reindeer, Santa and gifts under the tree. But why do we hang stockings?
There are no written records to document the origins of Christmas stockings, but there are some legends associated with the tradition.
Many people have heard the story of how an act of kindness performed by Saint Nicholas led to the practice of hanging Christmas stockings. According to this legend , a nobleman whose wife had died had become poverty stricken and unable to afford the dowry for his three daughters. Without a dowry, the girls would not be able to marry. On Christmas, Saint Nicholas saw the girls' stockings hanging by the fireplace and filled them with gold. In some variations, St. Nick throws gold coins down the chimney.
Some say the re-telling of this story led children to hang their stockings by the fireplace, hoping that they might also receive gifts from Saint Nicholas.
But there may be an even earlier origin of the Christmas stocking tradition. Author Phyllis Siefker in her book, "Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men: The Origins and Evolution of Saint Nicholas, Spanning 50,000 Years," traces the tradition back to the the Norse God Odin and the winter Yule festival . The author says that during the Yule festival, children would place their boots, filled with carrots, straw or sugar near the chimney for Odin's flying horse. In exchange for this kindness, Odin would then reward the kids by leaving gifts or candy.
This practice, the author says, survived in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium after Christianity was introduced and later became associated with St. Nick.
Many cultures now have traditions that involve leaving stockings out to be filled at Christmas, but there is a wide variation in the practice. In some countries - like Italy and France - children leave shoes instead of stockings, and in Italy, the gifts are left on January 6, the last day of Christmas . And since many modern homes don't have chimneys, in many families the tradition is now to use Christmas stocking holders.
Even though the origins of Christmas stocking history will never be known for sure, it's clear that hanging stockings on Christmas Eve is a tradition that will continue to be practiced each year at the holidays.
How to Sew a Christmas Stocking
Did You Learn Something New About Christmas Stocking History? 3 comments
Read More About Christmas Stockings
Christmas Pages by lisa42
- Reindeer Costume for Car
You've decorate your home, your office, and your front yard. What's left? Your car! Make it festive with a reindeer costume featuring car reindeer antlers and nose.
- Santa North Pole Trivia
How much Santa North Pole trivia do you know? Get some facts (and some not-quite-facts) here.
- The Night Before Christmas Recordable Book and Other Recordable Books for Children
If you're looking for a unique, personalized Christmas gift for a special child in your life, consider giving The Night Before Christmas recordable book or another recordable book for children. Hallmark,...
- Christmas Party Games for Groups
Getting together with your friends, family, or colleagues over the holidays can be a great way to have fun and relax. Some folks enjoy just hanging out, talking and eating, while others like to have planned...
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Gifts
- Eco-Friendly Christmas Ideas for Green Living
Get a list of easy eco-friendly Christmas ideas for making your holidays greener.
- 5 Fun Free Santa Printables
The web is a big place, and there are plenty of sites out there offering free things during the holidays. You can get free Christmas wallpaper, free holiday music, free patterns for Christmas crafts, and many,...
More by this Author
Have you ever wondered how Santa Claus gets into houses without a chimney? He does it like the rest of us - he uses the front door. But he needs a magic Santa Claus key to do it.
Are candy canes a reminder of why we celebrate Christmas? Many people think so. Here's more about the candy cane legend and the candy cane poems that describe this simple candy's message for believers.
Many people would like to write a love letter to someone special, but don't know quite how to start. How should you begin a love letter? There's really no right way. There are many phrases you can use to get get...