The Stockings were hung...
“...by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.”
One of my favorite things about Christmas is the tradition of hanging the stocking. I have made dozens in my life, and every one is special because it was always for someone that I loved.
This had me wonder about the history of the tradition. According to an article from Smithsonian Magazine, it is not truly known who wrote the infamous poem “The Night before Christmas”. It may have been Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston Jr., but either way, those wonderful words about the traditions of Christmas helps to keep alive the tradition of the Christmas stocking.
One of the legends about Santa Claus is a story of a man who was widowed, but had three daughters that he hoped would marry well. They were beautiful, but he had little means and was afraid this would affect their ability to find good husbands. However, he was resistant to the idea of his neighbors giving him charity.
The story goes that St. Nicholas heard of the widower. Rather than help him directly, which would have led to a refusal for the help, the Saint slid down the chimney and filled the laundry hanging by the fire with gold coins, then slipped away into the night.
When the girls woke in the morning, they found their stockings filled with a miracle that made them eligible to be married in the village. The father was relieved with the gift, but was able to keep his dignity.
Ok – it’s a bit misogynist. The story does have its charm though, and the idea of giving to someone without taking any credit has been a long tradition that should continue, even if the idea that women must be beautiful and have a dowry is incredibly antiquated.
From the time I was very little I had a handmade stocking that my mother stitched for me. It had an elf in sequined purple, with a sequin hat, and she was holding a green ribbon. My name was on the stocking. I loved that beautiful piece of history, and I have made similar felt stitched stockings with sequins for many others in my life – including my sister, because my mother’s hands had difficulty working with the threads by the time she was able to consider making one for her.
Christmas stockings are one of the many traditions that I miss about my former life with my family, and it is a tradition of love and wonder. Who doesn’t wait anxiously to see what kinds of small gifts they will find on Christmas morning?
My mother wrapped the gifts that she put in the stockings. She used her creativity to come up with wonderful little things that we would love, from the time we were children up to the time that she had grandchildren. Then, the tradition continued with them until she was no longer with us.
So, probably one of my favorite things on Christmas morning was the tradition of the stockings, hung on the fireplace, and filled with magic and love.