Christmas stockings, a long-standing tradition

You see them popping up more and more, the Christmas stockings. Do you think this is a new trend? No! This tradition originated in America but has its origins in the past. There are even whispers that Santa Claus has nothing to do with it…

Christmas stockings, where do they come from?

As with many old traditions, there are several stories circulating about their origins. One of the most important comes from our own region. It is the story of St. Nicholas and the merchant with his three daughters…
There was once a rich merchant who had lost all his money through misfortune and adversity. This man had three daughters who were very eager to get married. Unfortunately, in those days it was customary that a dowry had to be paid to the groom and his family. Since the poor merchant had no money left, he could not marry off his daughters and they would have to go to work as servants for other families. This had come to St. Nicholas’ attention and he wanted to do something about it. He realized that the merchant would not want to accept money, so he came up with a plan. One night he went to the merchant’s house and threw 3 bags of gold coins down the chimney. These ended up in…

royal things christmas stockings origin story 3 girls salesman
Royal Things Christmas Stockings Sint Nicolaas

Yes, you guessed it! This is where the tradition of Christmas stockings begins. Better known to us as putting a shoe for (the donkey of) St. Nicholas. Through the centuries the story got different versions. Some say that the money bags ended up in the stockings, which were hanging to dry by the fireplace. According to others, they fell into the shoes that stood in front of the fireplace. Still others claim that only 1 bag ended up in a stocking. Wherever they ended up, everyone who heard this naturally did the same in the hope that St. Nicholas would also visit them.

So when did Santa Claus show up?
Like so many traditions, this one from St. Nicholas was taken overseas. There he was called “Santa Claus” and immediately the tradition of Christmas stockings in America was born.

Vikings and a witch?

Other sources suggest that the tradition is much older and dates back to the Vikings. There, it was common for children to place their boots on the chimney full of carrots, sugar and straw for “Sleipnir,” Odin’s flying horse. In exchange for all that food, Odin rewarded the children with toys and candy, and of course they found it in their boots!
There are many other stories, for example that of “La Befana”, an Italian witch who brings presents to the children. Or of Dun Che Lao Ren (“Christmas Old Man”) who fills the Christmas stockings of the Chinese children. As you can see, this tradition is celebrated all over the world, although the backstory may differ. One thing is certain: Christmas stockings are here to stay.

Royal Things Christmas Stockings La Befana
royal things christmas boutique stockings

But what do you put in a Christmas stocking?

Okay, now you know where they come from. These days, it’s mostly pretty stockings that adorn our fireplace mantel. But hanging an empty, flat sock on the wall isn’t all that appealing now either. So we put something in it to surprise our loved ones on Christmas Day. You can’t put big things in here, so we have to be inventive. The Americans even have a term for it: “Stocking fillers”. Cute little gadgets, candy, someone’s favorite perfume, a mini book,…. Yes so many options! What are you putting in there soon?