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Christmas Stockings

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Christmas


The idea of hanging stockings by the fireplace at Christmas is not a new one, but not many people agree on where the idea originated.

One of the most familiar stories is that of Saint Nicholas (the real one) taking pity on a poor family and dropping three gold bags into the stockings of the family's poor daughters, enabling them to pay for a wedding. (In the story, the surviving parent varies between grieving widower and forlorn widow.)

Children in France, Italy, the Netherlands, and elsewhere leave not stockings but shoes by the hearth, in hope that the visiting Santa will fill the shoes with gifts. Some children fill their shoes with gifts for Santa as well. Dutch children leave their shoes full of hay and carrots, for the horse of Sinter Klaas.

In the common story of the bags of gold dropped into stockings, those stockings are hung over a fireplace. It is in the poem "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" that the common image of stockings hung by or at the bottom of the chimney gains popularity: The stockings were hung by the chimney with care. In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there."

 


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