As with many Christmas traditions, there are legends galore to explain the use of Christmas stockings. One tale involves a kind old man whose wife had died leaving him to care his three daughters all by himself. He was poor and the father worried that he could not afford to pay any dowries for the daughters which would enable them to marry. One evening the girls were completing their chores and had washed their laundry and hung their stockings over the fireplace to dry.
After the family had went to sleep, St. Nicholas was walking down the road and stopped outside the home. St.
Nicholas knew of the family’s misfortune and decided that because the girls and their father were good people with good hears he would help them. St. Nicholas took three small bags of gold from his sack and threw them down the chimney where they landed one-by-one in the stockings of the young women. The next morning the daughters awoke to find enough gold for proper dowries. The father was happy beyond belief at the miracle that had happened. As word of the miracle spread across the countryside more people began hanging stockings by the fire in hopes that St.
Nicholas would leave treasures for them as well.
Stockings have changed over the years. Most people don’t hang an actual stocking that they wear on Christmas Even, but instead they hang special decorative stockings to be filled by St. Nick.
Items used to fill the stockings include candies, small gifts, fruits, nuts, etc. Current folklore indicates that oranges in the toes of the stockings may represent the lumps of gold left by St. Nicholas for the girls.
While, an apple in the heal indicates the stocking owner has been good throughout the year. In Italy, however, it still means someone has been naughty to find a piece of coal in the stocking. Have you been naughty or nice? If you hung your stockings what would you find?
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