Why Do We Hang Christmas Stockings?
A Short History of Christmas Stockings: Why We Hang Them
"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care..." is a well-known line from Clement Moore's famous Christmas poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas."
But why do we hang stockings on Christmas Eve? The history of this Christmas tradition can be traced back to very early times, and is also associated with legends about Saint Nicholas.
Christmas Stocking History
Why we hang stockings by the chimney for St. Nick
Exactly why do we hang our Christmas stockings by the fire with care? There aren't any written records that explain the origins of this Christmas tradition, but there are some legends that offer clues.
One legends comes from a story about Saint Nicholas, the historic figure who helped inspire today's Santa Claus. According to this legend , a widower had become unable to afford the dowry to marry off his three daughters. Saint Nicholas heard of the family's plight and went to their home on Christmas. He found the girls' stockings hanging by the fireplace, so he secretly filled them with gold coins. In some variations of the tale, St. Nick doesn't leave the gold in the stockings, but throws it down the chimney.
Some people believe this story started the Christmas stocking tradition by encouraging children to hang their stockings by the fireplace, hoping that they might also receive presents from Saint Nicholas.
But the tradition may have started even earlier Author Phyllis Siefker in her book, "Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men," traces the tradition back to the 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 the Norse God Odin's flying horse. Odin would then reward the kids by leaving gifts or candy. This practice, the author says, later became associated with St. Nick.
Many cultures now have traditions that involve leaving out containers to be filled during Christmas, but not everyone puts out stockings. In countries such as Italy and France, children leave shoes instead of stockings. And not everyone gets their gifts on Christmas Eve. In Italy, the gifts are left on January 6, the last day of Christmas.
We may never know for sure which ancient legend or legends led to today's practice of hanging stockings out for Santa Claus, it's clear that it's a tradition that's going to hang around for quite a bit longer.
Personalized Christmas Stockings
Customized with your name
Buy these personalized stockings online and customize them with your own name.
Striped elf stockingCHECK PRICE
Personalized silver stockingCHECK PRICE
Velvet snowflake stockingCHECK PRICE
Embroidered countdown stockingCHECK PRICE
Velvet personalized stockingCHECK PRICE
Little Prince stockingCHECK PRICE
Little Princess stockingCHECK PRICE
Personalized gingerbread boy stockingCHECK PRICE
Fishing Christmas stockingCHECK PRICE
More Books About Christmas History - Learn about the origins of our holiday traditions
If you're fascinated by the origins of things, these books will unravel the history of Christmas and its many traditions.
"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care..."
Hang Your Christmas Stockings Anywhere
And add a photo to make sure Santa knows which stocking is yours
You won't need a chimney to hang your stockings with care with these handy metal stocking holders. And each one can be personalized with a family photo, so Santa will never forget who's stocking he's filling.
Personalized Photo Stocking HoldersCHECK PRICE
Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men - The Origins and Evolution of Saint Nicholas, Spanning 50,000 Years
In this book, the author traces the roots of Santa and traditions such as Christmas stockings back to pre-Christian times.
You Might Also Enjoy These Pages - More Christmas articles
Christmas Stocking Holders
If you'll be hanging Christmas stockings out for Santa Claus to fill on Christmas Eve, you'll need a good hanger to make sure they stay in place unti...
How to Write Family Christmas Letters
Love 'em or hate 'em, family Christmas letters have become a part of our culture. Each year, millions of people send and receive these annual updates...
Santa History: From Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus
Santa Claus is now a very familiar figure during the holidays, but the roly-poly, bearded man in a red suit we know today evolved over many years. The legend...
Creative Christmas Letter Ideas
Do you dread writing your annual Christmas letter? Is it a chore to put words to paper? Then forget everything you learned in high school about writing and j...
The History of the Poinsettia Christmas Plant
Thousands of years ago, the Aztecs used a plant they called Cuitlaxochitl to make red dye and ease fever. Today that same plant is known around the world as ...
Kids Will Have Fun With a Magic Christmas Elf Doll
Ever wonder how Santa knows when you are sleeping and knows when you're awake? Or how does he know if you've been bad or good, for goodness sakes? The answer...
Printable Christmas Letter Templates Make Xmas Letters Easy
Are you looking for a simple way to make your annual holiday letter look great? Printable Christmas letter templates are easy to use and will help you creat...