The History of Traditional Christmas Stockings

The History of Traditional Christmas Stockings

3rd Nov 2022

The holiday season has brought millions, if not billions, of people together to celebrate family, love, kindness, appreciation, and generosity. From giving your children the exact gift they want to participating in charities to help the homeless, the winter holiday season helps spread joy and compassion to others. However, one tradition that has carried over from past centuries is the holiday stocking.

Christmas stockings offer a fantastic way to gift children and adults with fun trinkets, candy, cosmetics, and more. The history of traditional Christmas stockings goes back to the late 19th century, making its way into many homes and staying relevant today. So let’s go over the origins of St. Nicholas, the concept of Christmas stockings, and how it makes for a great holiday tradition that’s still prominent today.

The Legend of St. Nicholas

Before discussing the history of stockings, it’s essential to discuss the origins of St. Nicholas. The story starts with a monk named St. Nicholas, believed to have been born around 280 AD in Patara. He was a prominent part of many legends and stories due to his kindness in giving away his wealthy inheritance to the less fortunate and traveling worldwide to help others. As the years went on, he became a symbol of protection for children, as people celebrated with a feast on the day of his death, December 6.

The persona of St. Nicholas made its way to American culture toward the end of the 18th century with reports of Dutch families gathering in New York to honor the anniversary of his death. Eventually, Santa Claus originated as a shortened name for Sint Nikolaas, Dutch for Saint Nicholas. People also started to feature images of Santa with fireplace-hung stockings filled with fruit and toys.

Stockings & Their Beginnings

The origins of the traditional Christmas stocking come from a folklore tale regarding St. Nicholas and his generosity. A widowed nobleman was left penniless, doing his best to care for his three daughters. Because of his low income, he had no funds for a dowry and worried his children wouldn’t marry well.

After hearing about his poor dilemma, St. Nicholas came to their homes, filling the girls’ stockings with solid gold spheres to improve their livelihood. While there are many versions of this inspiring story, the concept of the traditional stocking shined through.

The 19th Century

In 823, the poet Clement Clark Moore wrote the famous The Night Before Christmaspoem, mentioning stockings twice throughout the writing. Afterward, illustrator Thomas Nast created three large panels featuring holiday celebrations, including a panel titled “Morning,” where children were opening presents and receiving stockings.

Moreover, writer George Webster published a book titled Santa Claus and His Works, with illustrations from Thomas Nast. Stockings were continuously mentioned throughout the story, with Santa Claus delivering presents and stockings to children.

Making It to the Mantel

Alongside the mention of stockings, another Christmas tradition with the Christmas tree really pushed them into prominence. The elastic Smith Stocking created a standard in the stocking industry, later shifting toward highly decorated stockings throughout the 20th century.

As of today, stockings remain an integral part of the holiday season, making for a fun decoration and gift-giving experience many families can enjoy. Over time, personalized Christmas stockings have become a popular holiday craft for children.

Why Stockings Make a Fun Tradition

It’s no surprise that the use of traditional stockings has left a considerable impact on the public. From all over the world, stockings have created a unique way to deliver small, practical gifts to loved ones that allow for budget-friendly decision-making and elaborate, out-of-this-world gifting options.

As such, stockings not only have a unique history but also make for a fun tradition in every home. It’s an excellent tool for teaching children about appropriate behavior and creative gift-giving, and it can get them excited for the holiday season.

Easy for Delivering Small Gifts

While it’s exciting to receive gifts wrapped in shiny gift wrap and sparkling tinsel, sometimes, the smaller or more untraditional gifts can make an impact. Stockings are a unique way to gift your loved ones with just about anything you can think of, including candy, toiletries, trinkets, and money.

Children and adults alike feel excited when they reach into their stockings and pull out a funny gag gift or a small trinket that warms their hearts. A fun gift to offer is miniature goodies that can fit on a loved one’s windowsill, office desk, or even on their nightstand as a reminder of your thoughtful gift.

Fun for the Children

It’s no surprise that children look forward to the holidays because of good food, family time, and presents. They asked all year long for toys of their favorite TV show characters, race car toys, art supplies, and so much more. It’s exciting when they go to sleep the night before Christmas, then wake up the following morning to see their stockings packed to the brim with goodies.

Stockings are a fantastic way to encourage the holiday spirit in children, spreading joy and kindness to others in their lives. Additionally, you can put a generous twist on stockings by getting your children involved in charity. You can find fundraisers and charity foundations that accept stockings filled with gifts for children and those who want to feel more joy around the holidays.

Encourages Good Behavior

Commonly in the 19th and 20th centuries, homes were warmed by burning coal. While the origins of coal given to naughty children are unknown, stockings are a fantastic reminder to maintain good behavior, especially around the holidays. By hanging a stocking on the fireplace mantel, children get a visual reminder to practice kindness, compassion, generosity, and honesty.

Historically, coal was often a way to ward off winter’s harsh cold. It was a more reliable alternative to wood or steam heating systems, considered expensive and scarce at the time. Coal was a plentiful means to help keep homes warm and eventually transitioned to becoming a gift for naughty girls and boys. It ultimately became a symbol of bad behavior in children, so stockings are a good reminder for children to behave and practice kindness to loved ones.

With the holiday season on the horizon, the perfect gift should come from the heart. At Little Obsessed, our miniatures make an excellent gift or two for the loved ones in your life. You can get creative with our small stocking stuffers that make children, teens, and adults beam with joy. From miniature embroidery kits for your artistic friends to tiny toadstool drink markers for your upcoming holiday party, you’ll make a splash with your friends and loved ones. If you have any questions about our miniature goods and products, our enthusiastic team will help you today.

The History of Traditional Christmas Stockings