The Stocking Story
Families in the US have been hanging stockings above the fireplace mantle for years. But where did this tradition actually come from?
A fuzzy red stocking with white, fluffy trim is a quintessential symbol of Christmas and the holiday season. Most modern families use stockings as a small gift holder, but there are actually some very colorful legends associated with the Christmas stocking that don't include the purchase of impulse buys from your local department store!
The poor, kind nobleman
Many believe there was once a kind nobleman whose wife had died of an illness, leaving the man and his three daughters in despair. In those days, a young woman's father had to offer prospective
husbands a dowry that usually included money and property. Without dowries, the man's daughters were therefore destined to be sold into slavery.
The Dutch theory
One legend claims that it was the Dutch who introduced the Christmas stocking to America. It is said that during the 16th century, children in Holland would leave their clogs by the hearth filled with carrots and straw for the reindeer (or donkey). A treat for Sinterklaas was left in the house near the fire, and in return he would leave the children treats. Later the clogs would become stockings and the saint would become known by all as Santa Claus.
The North American theory
Some believe the first mention of Christmas stockings being hung from a chimney was through pictures illustrated by Thomas Nast that accompanied the story written by George Webster about a visit from Santa Claus.
Families all over the world continue to practice traditions associated with the Christmas stocking. In Puerto Rico, children put flowers and greens in small boxes and place them under their beds
for the camels of the Three Kings. On the night before Epiphany, January 5th, Italian children leave their shoes out for La Befana, the good witch, and children in Hungary shine their shoes before
putting them near the door or a windowsill.
Make your own stockings and more