CHARLOTTE, NC, December 13, 2017 – Like most traditions the origin of the Christmas Stocking has several possibilities. Unlike many holiday traditions, the story behind the Christmas Stocking has one legend most agree on.
The story of the Christmas Stocking
The one major discrepancy is whether the person who established the myth surrounding the Christmas Stocking was a kindly nobleman who fell upon hard times or whether he was poor from the beginning. Either way, the tale centers around a man and his impoverished family consisting of three daughters.
According to the first explanation, the landowner had suffered through a long drought which resulted in crop failure. As a result, many families who depended upon the nobleman became impoverished in the process and could not pay their bills. Thus, the once prosperous landowner was forced to spend began spending his savings in order to put bread on his family’s table.
During the period of famine, the nobleman’s beloved wife fell ill and died. Now dispirited and penniless, the nobleman sold his land and moved into a small cottage on the edge of a forest that was once part of his domain.
The father’s daughters
At their new home, the daughters, now without servants, were responsible for all the cooking, sewing and cleaning. As the sisters grew into women and were ready for marriage, they fell in love with three brothers from a distant village whom they had met one day while visiting the local market.
The father, who was already depressed, fell even further into deep despair. The tradition of that era was that the woman’s family provided a dowry for the husband’s family. Without a dowry, it was impossible for the girls to marry. The girls completely understood their plight with no complaint. Their father, however, could visibly see the sadness in their eyes.
He knew they were desperately unhappy.
Enter St. Nicholas
During this time, there was a traveling preacher named Nicholas who had been given wonderful gifts from Eastern rulers in thanks for spreading messages of hope and inspiration to people throughout his journeys.
One night, the daughters had done their usual routine of washing their clothes and hanging their stockings to dry over the fireplace before going to bed.
Nicholas and the stockings
Hearing of the father’s desperation and sadness, Nicholas stopped by the tiny cottage. Peering into the cottage window, Nicholas saw the stockings hanging over the hearth. In a moment of inspiration, compassion and kindness, he took three small bags of gold from his pouch. Climbing up on the roof, the kindly old man dropped his bags of gold one by one down the chimney where they landed in the stockings.
When the girls awoke the following morning, the treasure was there as if by magic. The father had no idea where the gold had come from or why, but he immediately understood its purpose. Soon after, each daughter was able to marry one of the three brothers. Happily, their father went to live in a small but cozy, castle on the estate of his new sons-in-law.
Everyone lived happily ever after, and the Christmas Stocking was born
As in all good fairy tales, everyone lived happily ever after surrounded by love and many grandchildren.
As the legend of the Christmas Stocking grew, it inspired other children to hang their stockings near the fireplace mantle in the hope that Saint Nicholas would visit and place gifts in their stockings as well.
The first mention of stockings ‘hung from a chimney with care’ is in Clement C. Moore’s poem “The Night Before Christmas”:
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads
Enjoy this reading, by Perry Como, of A Visit from St. Nicholas:
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News
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