The Tradition of Hanging a Christmas Stocking
Popular myth holds that the tradition of hanging a Christmas stocking relates back to a destitute nobleman and his daughters. After his wife died in birth, the nobleman squandered away his fortune, leaving himself and his three daughters very poor. The girls could not get married, for they had no money for a dowry. One night, after washing their stockings, the girls hung them above the fireplace to dry.
Saint Nicholas is said to have ridden by the home, and, upon seeing the stockings, flung bags of gold coins into the chimney. They landed in the girls’ stockings, giving them money for a future dowry, allowing them to marry.
Of course, several variations of the story abound, but the basics are virtually the same. Different cultures have their own versions, sometimes involving shoes placed outside the door with goodies for Saint Nicholas’ reindeer. In exchange for the reindeer food, the kindly Saint would leave treats for the children.
Types of Stockings
Christmas stockings come in a variety of designs. While many go with the traditional red felt with white trim, others feel the need to personalize. Putting family names on stockings helps Santa (and other family members) know whose stocking is whose. Sometimes, family pets are hung along with smaller versions of the human stockings.
Stockings within the same family usually follow a theme. Some families choose to have stockings based on sports. Others have winter scenes, ornaments, toys, or depict ice skating, skiing, or sledding. Penguins, Santas, reindeer, and snowmen are typical designs found on stockings.
For those who decorate with a theme in mind, it may be important to keep the stocking decorations in line with the rest of the home. Gold, silver, and appliquéd stockings frequently follow in this category. Shades of blue and purple are cropping up as the newest colors in holiday decorations, and finding stockings in those colors can help coordinate a home’s theme.
People with sewing, knitting, or crocheting experience may want to make their own stockings. Moms and grandmas often enjoy making a special stocking for their children and grandchildren to enjoy for years. Handmade stockings hold special meaning at the holidays for those who receive them.
Once you have a stocking, it needs to be filled. Popular stocking stuffers for children include:
- Small cars or trucks
- Costume jewelry
- Deck of cards
Parents fill the stockings on Christmas Eve, and children find the gifts on Christmas day. Gifts in stockings are said to come from Santa Claus, who paid a visit to the home overnight.
Adults frequently hang stockings. Stuffers for men or women include:
- Gift certificates to local restaurants
- Bath and body aides
- Small tools
Stocking stuffers for adults are usually fulfilled by their partner. As children age, they may partake in adding their own little gifts in their parents' or siblings' stockings.
Even if your home does not have a fireplace over which to hang Christmas stockings, it is said that Santa Claus has the holiday magic to get into your home and find the stockings anyways. Other popular places to hang stockings include inside doorways, over a couch, outside individual bedroom doors, and near the home’s doorway.
No matter what your stocking looks like, or where it is hung, it will be filled with goodies come Christmas morning.
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