The Warm History Of Christmas Stockings

A history of Christmas stockings



What other season besides Christmas has you dragging a seven-foot tree into your home?

Christmas traditions make the celebration unique, from hanging Christmas stockings to kissing under the mistletoe.

Every year, we decorate the fireplace with giant socks, but where did this tradition come from? And how did it get so popular?

Here we’ll look at the history of Christmas stockings.

An origin story of the Christmas stockings from Turkey.

Myra where the original Santa Claus lived

Ever heard the story of the very first Santa Claus? This story does not depict him as a fat man in a red suit. Instead, he was a Greek-born bishop in Myra, Turkey.

His name is Saint Nicholas, and he’s believed to have started the trend of hanging Christmas stockings.

There are no written records of this legend, but stories have been passed down for generations.

Legend has it that Saint Nicholas wanted to help a man with a dowry for his daughters, without which they’d be unable to get married.

Unfortunately, he knew the man was proud and would reject the money if he offered it directly.

Eventually, Saint Nicholas devised a foolproof plan. When the night came, he climbed on the man’s roof and dropped a bag of coins down the chimney.

As it turns out, the man’s family had hung their socks on the fireplace to dry. As the bag came down, some coins fell inside the hanging stockings.

One version of the story says that Saint Nicholas threw the bags of gold coins into the man’s house through his window, and another says that Saint Nicholas dropped the coins directly into the stockings.

Either way, all three stories have one thing in common: the stockings hanging by the fireplace and Saint Nicholas dropping the coins.

And so, the tradition of hanging Christmas stockings for gifts was born.

The lesser-known Dutch legend.

Santa Claus may have Dutch origins

There is a lesser-known story about the origin of Christmas stockings.

Santa Claus and his assistant Zwarte Piet dock at a different city in the Netherlands each year.

Excited children waiting patiently for their arrival would leave their wooden clogs outside filled with hay and carrots for the animals. 

Santa Claus would find this thoughtful and fill the wooden clogs with gifts for the kids.

It’s believed that when Dutch migrants moved to America, they brought along the tradition of Santa Claus and swapped the wooden clogs for stockings.

The evolution of Christmas stockings.

Lots of Christmas stockings hanging on the fire place

Christmas stockings didn’t always look like what you have today.

People would hang regular stockings over the fireplace, hoping to find gifts on Christmas morning.

This soon gave way to larger socks to contain more presents.

Nowadays, you’ll see special boot-size stockings in different designs hanging on the fireplace during Christmas.

What do Christmas stockings symbolize?

What do Christmas stocking symbolize?

Christmas stockings represent one of the core values of Christmas – generosity.

After all, it was Saint Nicholas’s generosity that started the tradition.

Saint Nicholas devoted his life to helping those in need.

It’s believed that word of what happened to the man got around, and soon more people were leaving their stockings hanging by the fireplace.

What goes inside a Christmas stocking?

What goes inside stockings?

You could follow the tradition set by Saint Nicholas and drop some coins in the Christmas stockings.

But some people might prefer something more modern, like fruits, small toys, perfume, and chocolate coins.

If you want to impress your loved ones with something more personal, you can follow the five-gift rule. You can include one of each: 

A need

A want

To read

To wear

To do

When should you open your Christmas stockings?

When should you open Christmas stockings?

Some people believe you should open your Christmas stocking on Christmas Eve.

While others think you should wait until Christmas morning.

Ultimately, it all depends on your family tradition.

Young kids in the family usually can’t wait to open theirs until the latter! 


Christmas is a fun time to spend with family and friends.

After all, celebrating traditions with friends and family makes the holiday even more unique and memorable.

About The Author

Jennifer Anyabuine
Jennifer Anyabuine

Jennifer Anyabuine is a med student and freelance writer. She writes on diverse topics, including health, wellness, and lifestyle. When she’s not studying or writing, she spends quality time with her family and two dogs.

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