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Where Did Stocking Stuffers Come From?

posted on October 27 2016

Pinned from the mantle, adorning the fireplace or at the foot of the bed.. Stockings come in all shapes and sizes. What's your family tradition? A felted Rudolf or Elf? Was it passed down from your parents? Is it one of those highly flammable furry versions? We love hearing about how unique everyone's stocking rituals are.

Some stockings are small, needlepoint numbers and others are giant hemp bags with sturdy red cords used to cinch. 

Images of Christmas Stocking Stuffers through history

We started wondering where the funny tradition of stockings comes from?

Whether you call them stocking stuffers or stocking fillers, there is no written records on where they came from, but there is a popular myth called 'The Three Impoverished Maidens'.... 

A long time ago, there was once a rich man who had fallen on hard times. Now poor, and with 3 daughters of the age to marry, he could not afford the dowry or the gift a family offered a prospective groom. Without this, his daughters were unlikely to marry, and the father worried night after night what would happen to them after his death.

Word of their misfortune reached St Nicolas, the first ever Santa Claus who, coming in secret by night, tossed a bag of gold into the house. It sailed in through an open window, landing in a stocking left before the fire to dry. On Christmas morning the daughter discovered golden coins inside their stockings. Soon after, the first daughter was wed and eventually all three.

Children began hanging their stockings or putting out shoes in the hope that St Nicolas would bring them gifts and that's how the tradition of stockings began.

Did you know through history many actually used real socks? I mean really not very practical for fitting gifts in, maybe a few oranges and that's it! But so sweet. 

The Smithsonian published a really great array of historical pictures of families at Christmas. We've copied some of these here but to see the whole collection head over to their site. We love that everyone does it their way and it's a chance for each of us to create our own traditions, making treasured memories that our kids can pass on. 

Christmas Stockings in the 1940s

The tradition of the Christmas stocking

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