history of christmas stockings

The Origin of Christmas Stockings

Christmas stockings are an interesting part of Christmas traditions. Who would have ever thought of putting gifts in a sock, or in the modern-day version, the Christmas stockings?

The legend of the Christmas stocking says good boys and girls who hang their Christmas stockings will have them filled with goodies by Santa and bad boys and girls will only get a bag of rocks, or in some versions, a switch.

But where did this legend come from?

Most people associate Christmas stockings with the story of St. Nicholas. Legend has it that a girl from a poor family needed a dowry and that St. Nicholas delivered a bag of gold which somehow ended up in the girl’s stocking that had been hung by the fireplace to dry.

Christmas stockings are also associated with a custom in Holland where children would put their clogs outside on Christmas Eve and Sintirklass (the Dutch version of St. Nicholas) would fill them with goodies.

Fun Fact

A dowry is either money or property that is given by a bride’s family to a groom’s family at the time that the bride is given in marriage. Dowries are customs in some cultures and as such, a girl cannot get married without one.

Christmas stockings are generally hung on the hearth of a fireplace, or on a wall if there is no fireplace. Many different cultures around the world carry on the tradition of Christmas stockings. The Christmas stockings are usually filled with sweets, fruit and sometimes small toys.

Putting a switch or a bag of rocks in the Christmas stockings belonging to bad boys and girls is something added to the original legend of Christmas stockings to encourage boys and girls to be good so they can be rewarded by having their Christmas stockings filled with goodies.

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