Christmas stocking is an empty bag in a sock shape which children usually hang at home on the eve of Christmas with the belief that the bag will be filled with gifts by Santa Claus. Candies, coins, fruits, toys are some of the gifts that are normally put in Christmas stocking as a gift for children. However, larger gifts are packed in colorful paper and deposited close to the Christmas tree. As per the customs, Christmas stocking is required to be hung on the fireplace mantel. Today, people use unique Christmas stockings made of homemade craft often stitching the name of each family member. This is to make the job of Santa easier to identify the stocking of each member of the family. According to western tradition, it is said that a bad child will not receive a gift and given a coal in his Christmas stocking. Scroll down to know more about the legend of Christmas stocking.
The legend of Christmas stockings had its origin in compassionate man called Nicholas who lived in Patara, a city of Lycia, in Asia Minor around 280 A.D. He inherited fortune from his parents who died when he was young. Nicholas became devotee of Christ and ordained as a priest in Church. He was appointed as a Bishop of Myra and devoted his life to God. Nicholas gave his money whenever he saw sick and poor people. His exceptional deed of helping poor and needy soon became known to all the people in the region. In his personal life, he remained truly celibate and unmarried with no biological children. However, he had great affection for children and offered presents to them. In the course of time, he was called as the gift giver of Myra. He journeyed far across the country to help poor people. One characteristic trait of Nicholas was that he offered gifts only during night time to keep the secret of gift giver. The reason for this is that he did not like to be seen giving away the gifts. Apart from children, Nicholas also showed great concern for sailors. So, he was referred to as the patron saint of children and sailors and given the title St. Nicholas.
One of the popular stories about St. Nicholas and Christmas stocking was about a poor farmer who lived with his wife and three daughters in Patara, native land of St. Nicholas. One day, the farmer's wife passed away due to illness. This left farmer with immense grief that the entire family's burden fell upon the shoulder of his daughters. Years passed and the daughters attained marriageable age. The poor farmer was shattered for he knew that he would not be able to marry off his daughters to good bridegrooms. It was custom during those days for bride's father to give valuables to the bridegroom. Fortunately, sorry tales of poor farmer and his daughters reached the ears of St.Nicholas. He wanted to help them but at the same time would not like to reveal himself. One night, St. Nicholas set out with a bag of gold at poor farmer's house and waited till nightfall for family members to go to sleep. The farmer's daughters had washed the stockings and hung it near the fireplace to dry. They had no clue that St.Nicholas was visiting in secret. When the family went to bed, St. Nicholas sneaked into cottage window and spotted the stockings placed by the farmer's daughters. He placed the bag of gold inside the stockings and left. Next morning, the poor farmer opened the stockings and was overjoyed to see the bag of gold. It was like gift from God for him and thought to himself " who could have put in the stocking?". The bag of gold was sufficient to pay for one bridegroom. So, he married off his eldest daughter. Again on some other night, Saint Nicholas secretly visited poor farmer's house and threw another bag of gold in a stocking for his second daughter. The next morning the farmer's daughter opened the stocking and the poor peasant was so happy but was curious to know who the benefactor was. With this gift he married off his second daughter. The poor man kept vigil on following nights to know the benefactor who had brought great joy to his life. When Saint Nicholas visited for the third time with a bag of gold, he couldn't escape farmer's curious eye. The poor farmer immediately recognized St. Nicholas and bowed down to Bishop and expressed his gratitude. So, the poor farmer was blessed and the third daughter was married off and lived happy life forever.
And thus, the legend of Christmas stockings came into being in Europe.
Do you wish to learn about legend of the Christmas stocking? Read on for one of the most popular Christmas stories in the following article.