The history of Christmas stockings

Posted by Cato Cooper on

There are many different Christmas traditions all over the world. In my home country of Holland, in the 16th century, children would leave their clogs by the fire filled with straw and a carrot for the white horse and with the hope that Sinterklaas would fill them.

A similar tradition that I have grown to really love as a parent is the use of Christmas stockings. I enjoy finding unique and quirky gifts to put in my children’s stockings and it is great to see their faces when they wake up and see them brimming with gifts on Christmas morning.

According to tradition, St. Nicholas, who was a very wealthy fourth century Greek saint, loved giving gifts to those less fortunate than himself. He heard about a local man who had lost his wife and his money and had three daughters to care for.

St. Nicholas spotted that the girls had hung up their stockings to dry on the chimney ledge of their cottage and so he decided to climb down the chimney and put a bag of silver coins in the oldest daughter’s stocking. The next time he visited, he placed a bag of coins in the second daughter’s stocking and on his third visit, he placed the coins in the youngest daughter’s stocking.

He was caught by the father who was sworn to secrecy but news of his generosity soon got out and everyone in the village started leaving their stockings out, hoping for a visit from St. Nicholas.

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