Christmas Stockings Many families will hang large brightly colored Christmas stockings over the fireplace or on the walls of their homes during Christmastime in the hopes that Santa Claus will fill them with toys, treats, and goodies. In fact, families have been hanging stockings for as long as there have been stockings!
It’s hard for kids to understand today, but for many hundreds of years, most people only had one or two suits of clothing to wear. When their cloths were dirty, they would be washed and then hung up (hopefully near a fire) to dry. Non-essential clothing, such as socks and gloves were especially valuable and a child was unlikely to have more than one pair and was expected to take good care of that one!
If a parent wanted to “hide” a treat (such as a small piece of candy) where they were sure it would be found, they would put it in a child’s stocking and it would be found the next morning.
When Clement Clarke Moore published his famous poem “Twas the night before Christmas” in 1822, the first paragraph talked about hanging stockings:
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
Eventually, it became a general tradition that Christmas gifts were left in the stockings hung up on Christmas Eve. Any parent who has a child can easily understand that the kids figured out that if they hung bigger stockings, they might get bigger or more treats, so the size of the stockings grew with each passing Christmas. Even when the families celebrating Christmas grew wealthy enough that they exchanged larger boxed presents, the tradition of hanging up stockings continued (as did the warning that if you were not well behaved, you might not get any presents – just a lump of coal in your stocking).
So be sure to hang up your stocking and hope that Santa Claus brings you a present instead of a lump of coal.