Christmas Stocking History 101

Christmas Stocking HistoryChristmas stocking history is quite hard to trace. There is no real indication of how they were first initiated into the folds of Christmas tradition. However, many scholars have taken a fairly good guess at how they were first used and why. Many claim that is because of Saint Nicholas that we now use Christmas stockings during Christmas time in order to store a variety of small gifts to give each other. The story goes that Saint Nicholas wanted to give a gift of gold to supply a poor family with the dowry required to marry off their daughters. Saint Nicholas wanted to give the family the gift in secret to avoid the father refusing the gift. The family was poor but they had a great deal of pride and didn’t want to take the charity of the townsfolk. The girls had their stockings hung over the fireplace in order to dry them and Saint Nicholas dropped a bag of gold in each of the girl’s stockings.

The origin of the story is shrouded in controversy. It is said that Nicholas climbed down their chimney in order to gain access to the house so that he could leave the gift. This aspect of the story is flawed however. If Nicholas put the gold in the girl’s stockings as they were hung by the fire to dry, then the chimney would’ve been quite hot and he would not have survived the descent down the chimney. Christmas stocking history becomes a little clouded in this respect. The other point of contention is that Saint Nicholas was able to enter the home undetected and place the gold into the stockings at all. The gold is likely to jingle within the bags that it was contained in.
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The most likely scenario (and the one that many scholars agree on) is that Saint Nicholas threw the bags of gold into the home through an open window. It is hard to relate the Christmas stocking history to the story in this regard. It is possible that the whole tradition started as an idea that caught on after a few families in a specific village started to use stockings in order to surprise their children in the morning. Because in many European countries it gets cold during the Christmas season the children were likely to place their stockings on their feet when they awoke to keep warm. This then led them to the gifts that were contained therein.