Where Did the Tradition of Christmas Stockings Start?

did-tradition-christmas-stockings-start Credit: Jose Luis Pelaez/The Image Bank/Getty Images

The tradition of hanging Christmas stockings on Christmas dates back to the legend of St. Nicholas during the third century in Myra, Turkey. According to legend, filling stockings with gold was a way for St. Nicholas to give poor girls dowries.

According to the St. Nicholas Center Organization, St. Nicholas aided the poor, especially those girls whose families could not afford to give them dowries, by dropping gold down chimneys or through windows. This money would land in stockings that were hung up to dry. Another story says that the stocking tradition began when children would leave their shoes out filled with hay for Santa Claus's horse. He then would replace the hay with gifts.

St. Nicholas was reputedly born in the third century in Patara, a place that is now Demre, Turkey. His parents, who raised him as a Christian in what was then a Grecian province, died in an epidemic. Nicholas used what was left of the family fortune to help those less fortunate. He eventually became the Bishop of Myra where he continued his good works. He died on December 6, on what is now known as St. Nicholas Day. Many countries, such as Poland, celebrate this day with gift giving and feasts.