"The stockings were hung by the chimney
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there"
was a kindly nobleman whose wife had died of an illness leaving the
nobleman and his three daughters in despair. After losing all his money
in useless and bad inventions the family had to move into a peasant's
cottage, where the daughters did their own cooking, sewing and cleaning.
it came time for the daughters to marry, the father became even more
depressed as his daughters could not marry without dowries, money and
property given to the new husband's family.
night after the daughters had washed out their clothing they hung their
stockings over the fireplace to dry. That night Saint Nicholas, knowing
the despair of the father, stopped by the nobleman's house. Looking in
the window Saint Nicholas saw that the family had gone to bed. He also
noticed the daughters stockings. Inspiration struck Saint Nicholas and
he took three small bags of gold from his pouch and threw them one by
one down the chimney and they landed in the stockings.
next morning when the daughters awoke they found their stockings
contained enough gold for them to get married. The nobleman was able to
see his three daughters marry and he lived a long and happy life.
all over the world continue the tradition of hanging Christmas
stockings. In some countries children have similar customs, in France
the children place their shoes by the fireplace, a tradition dating back
to when children wore wooden peasant shoes.
Holland the children fill their shoes with hay and a carrot for the
horse of Sintirklass. In Hungary children shine their shoes before
putting them near the door or a window sill.
children leave their shoes out the night before Epiphany, January 5, for
La Befana the good witch. And in Puerto Rico children put greens and
flowers in small boxes and place them under their beds for the camels of
the Three Kings.
In Quebec and Acadia, children traditionally put
their shoes close to the fireplace so that the
Infant Jesus, and later "Père
Noël" (Father Christmas), could put gifts there on Christmas
Eve. This custom, which probably came to us from European countries
where it was a common practice in the XIXth century, does not seem to
have survived this period.
In some Quebec families,
children hung their stockings at the end of their bed rather than
hanging them close to the fireplace or putting out their shoes. This
custom ended during the 1930s when Christmas trees started to be set up
in houses with gifts placed underneath.