Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Traditions: Stockings

I have seen two explanations for Christmas Stockings.  The first predated Christ, and children would put straw in their socks for some the god Odin's flying horse during his annual hunt.  In return small gifts were left in the shoes.
However I like the second version.  There are several versions of this story, but they all center on Saint Nicholas, and her generous nature.  Some his generosity is general.  He throws coins down chimneys in an effort not to be seen.  Often these coins would fall into stockings or shoes close to the fireplace.  However there is also a more specific story.  In one account there was a gentleman who had three daughters.  He fell on hard times and was broke.  The other account says just that a poor man had three daughters.  The man, whether always poor, or now poor, had no dowry for his daughters, and consequently no hopes of marrying them well.  At that time a dowry was required for a good marriage.  Saint Nichols was always on the look out for situations where he could help.  He had received an inheritance, and spent his life giving it away.  When he became aware of this gentleman he became determined to help, without being discovered.  In one account he sneaks in and places money in to stockings hanging by the fireplace.  In another he throws the coins through the chimney.  Yet in another he brings enough for one dowry on three different nights.  And still another he uses gold ornaments to place in the stockings, thus sparking the tradition of giving a Christmas orange.

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