What’s behind the custom of hanging Christmas stockings on the fireplace?
According to Wikipedia:
While there are no written records of the origin of the Christmas Stocking, there are popular legends that attempt to tell the history of this Christmas tradition. One such legend has several variations, but the following is a good example:
- Very long ago, there lived a poor man and his three very beautiful daughters. He had no money to get his daughters married, and he was worried what would happen to them after his death. Saint Nicholas was passing through when he heard the villagers talking about the girls. St. Nicholas wanted to help, but knew that the old man wouldn’t accept charity. He decided to help in secret. After dark he threw three bags of gold through an open window, one landed in a stocking. When the girls and their father woke up the next morning they found the bags of gold and were, of course, overjoyed. The girls were able to get married and live happily ever after.
- Other versions of the story say that Saint Nicholas threw the three bags of gold directly into the stockings which were hung by the fireplace to dry.
This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.
According to the Smithonian:
As far back as 1823, when Clement Clarke Moore (or possibly Henry Livingston Jr.) wrote “A Visit From Saint Nicholas,” stockings were hung near the fireplace, awaiting a visit from Santa Claus. At the end of the poem, St. Nick “fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,/And laying his finger aside of his nose/And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.”
I remember getting one of these for Christmas.
Christmas Stockings are an important part of Christmas traditions!