The tradition of Christmas stockings is said to have originated from the actions of a kind noble man named Nicholas, who was born in March, 270 AD, in Patara, at the time Greek, but now Turkey. While still young, his wealthy parents died in an epidemic. Nicholas became a Christian priest and used all his riches to help the poor, the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He was made Bishop of Myra (modern Turkey) at a young age and became known for his kindness and generosity. He traveled across the country helping people, giving gifts of money and other presents. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, a practice celebrated on his feast day - St Nicholas Day, December 6 in Western Christianity and 19 December in Eastern Christianity. He died December 6, 343 AD. Many still observe December 6 as a St. Nicholas holiday. I grew up enjoying the candy treats thrown on my porch the evening of December 6.
Nicholas was so widely revered that thousands of churches were named
for him, including three hundred in Belgium, thirty-four in Rome,
twenty-three in the Netherlands and more than four hundred in
Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of
Saint Nicholas' life and deeds. One popular account (with many
variations) tells us of a poor peasant who lived happily in a small
cottage in Saint Nicholas' hometown, with his wife and three
daughters. The wife suddenly died of an illness, leaving the poor
man and his three daughters in despair. All the burden of household
chores now fell upon the daughters.
When the daughters reached a marriage age, the poor father became
depressed for he knew he could in no way marry them off to good men.
In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective
husbands something of value - a dowry, which he could not afford.
Saint Nicholas found out about peasant and his daughters and decided
to help him. He went to the peasant's house the night before the
eldest daughter came of age, with a bag of gold and waited for the
family to go to bed. That night, after finishing their washing for
the day, the daughters hung their stockings by the fireplace to dry.
As they turned off the lamps and fell asleep, St. Nicholas tiptoed
to the cottage window and saw the daughters' stockings hanging close
to his reach. He carefully put in his bag of gold in one of the
stockings and went away.
When the father found the bag the next morning and opened it, he was
delighted to find enough gold in the stocking to pay for the dowry
of one daughter. The father was able to provide for his eldest
daughter and saw that she got married to a nice groom.
Soon after, Saint Nicholas took another bag of gold, and threw it
carefully into another stocking. The next morning the man opened the
stocking and found enough gold to marry off his second daughter.
The father had grown eager to discover his mysterious benefactor,
and each night he stayed awake. When Saint Nicholas came up with
another bag of gold, the man recognized him. He fell on his knees
and cried of gratitude and thanked him with all his heart.
This is how the tradition of Christmas stockings is said to have
And below, my Christmas stockings.