Ah, the holidays! It’s the time of year spent with loved ones, a time to be thankful, a time to give, and a time of year that is rooted in rich tradition. One of the more popular traditions is the hanging of Christmas stockings. Many of us proudly hang our stockings over a fireplace mantel, a staircase, a bedpost, or a windowsill. While there are no definitive written accounts that explain this tradition, there are legends that shed light on the origin of this custom.
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas
Jolly Old Saint Nick is not just a nickname or a Christmas carol, it is believed to be the true inspiration behind Santa Claus. St. Nicholas of Myra (which is believed to be modern-day Turkey) was a rich man who lived during the 4th century and was known for his charity. He took interest in one particular villager and his three daughters, as the man could not afford dowries for his eldest daughter.
Legend has it that one night Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the man's chimney knowing that he would never accept the gift willingly. The gold slipped into a stocking that was hanging to dry over the fireplace. And thus, the man could now afford gifts for his oldest daughter and the legend of Santa and the Christmas stocking was born!
Nicholas continued acts of charity throughout his life and attempted to stay out of the spotlight while doing so. Eventually, he became a Saint for his selfless acts.
While many still speculate about the origin of the Christmas stocking this story is widely accepted as the humble beginning of what is now an essential holiday tradition.
The Evolution of the Christmas Stocking
The stocking ritual has evolved a lot from that legendary night where gold found its way into a freshly laundered stocking. People started to use larger stockings such as high-knee socks or long white socks (probably borrowed from dad's sock drawer). And why not? This meant more gifts! Today, many use boot-size stockings that are often labeled for each member of the family (and pets!) and customized with quirky designs.
The Bigger The Better
Fun Fact! The largest Christmas stocking (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) was measured at 168 feet and 5.65 inches. The bigger the better! At least if you want more gifts to fit inside!
Happy Holidays and Happy Rinsing!