The tradition of hanging stockings during Christmas has been around since ages. The birth of this tradition can be dated back to the 4th century; however the legend may have changed a bit since then.
Legend Of Christmas Stocking
The story of the Christmas stocking has been passed on to generations by word of mouth and is still well-known all over the world. The legend commences with the sad and tough life of a nobleman who lost his land and property during a famine. His misery was furthered with the death of his beloved wife. He had three lovely daughters and he moved with them to a small cottage and could barely make a living. It was time for his daughters' marriage and the nobleman's anxiety knew no bounds as he knew not how to arrange enough dowries for them. One night, his daughters had hung their washed stockings to dry over the fireplace when Saint Nicholas, aware of the nobleman's woes, passed by. He could not but stop at the nobleman's house and pass three tiny bags of gold which, through the chimney, landed one by one into the stockings. The family was fast asleep and did not have a hint of it until morning when the three daughters woke up to see that they had turned rich overnight. The gold was enough for them to get married. The nobleman then led a happy and peaceful life.
The Tradition Of Christmas Stocking
Aforementioned is the most widely accepted story behind the tradition of the Christmas stockings. Be it the East or the West, children hang their stockings on Christmas Eve hoping Santa Claus will fill them with gifts, toys or candies.
Traditions Across The World
- It is believed that in 16th century Holland, children would stuff their wooden shoes with straw for Sinterklaas's reindeer (some people are of the opinion that the animal was Sinterklaas's horse, not a reindeer). The next day the children would find gifts for themselves in return for their benevolence.
- Children in Hungary are known to shine their shoes before placing them near the door or the window sill in the hopes that the shine would impress the gift bearer and they would end up getting presents for the amount of effort that they put in to the shoes.
- The Italian children leave their shoes for La Befana, the good witch, the night before Epiphany, which is January 5. The same night, Puerto Rican children put flowers, as well as greens, in small boxes and leave them under the bed for the camels of the Three Magi. All this in the effort of pleasing gift bearers and getting some gifts in return
The Second Story
The first official indication of Christmas stockings being hung over a chimney was made in the later part of the 19th century by a writer named Clement Moore in his story "Visit from St. Nick" , illustrated by Thomas Nash.
To conclude, there are different stories supporting the origin of the custom of hanging Christmas stockings. Even the most accepted stories have variations, this story being no exception. Irrespective of everything, this tradition of hanging or placing Christmas stockings is followed with enthusiasm by children from all over the world, every Christmas.