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It’s fun on Christmas morning watching my boys empty their Christmas Stocking.

Of course they know the ‘real’ presents are spread around the Christmas tree, but it’s the stockings that always get emptied first.

Christmas Stockings - all shapes and sizes

The Christmas Stocking Story

According to Rabbi Brasch in his book “The Book of the Year” the story goes like this:

St Nicholas was deeply concerned about three lovely sisters living on the outskirts of a city. Desperately poor and destitute, they were tempted to sell their bodies.

Nicholas was determined to save the girls from prostitution. One night he went to their home and, unnoticed, dropped three pieces of gold through the smoke-hole (chimneys did not yet exist at the time). The coins did not fall on to the hearth as he had expected, but into the sisters’ stockings, which they had hung up near the fire to dry.

Nothing could describe their happiness when, next morning, they found the fortune. Ever since, people – unaware of the legendary origins of the custom – hang up stockings, hoping to receive similarly pleasant surprises and gifts.

What a lovely tale :)


When I was a young lass (that’s what young girls are called in the north of England) there was always an orange tucked away at the bottom of my   Christmas Stocking.

I think about that today and wonder if my Mum sub-consciously remembered the war years, when oranges were like gold, and putting an orange in her children’s Christmas Stockings was her way of acknowledging things were better now.

…and Socks

Years later, I continue the Christmas Stocking tradition by tucking a pack of new socks at the bottom of my children’s stockings.  Bizarre eh? Well, perhaps not.

My Mum used to darn socks and taught me how to do it. I even remember writing about it at primary school – and getting top marks!

The first time a hole appeared in one of my own children’s socks, I threw them away – refusing to darn any socks – times were better – right?

So, I wonder if my Christmas Stocking madness is a sub-conscious stand-off to those darning days.  Weird eh?

Where’re the Socks?

Of course, it’s become a standing joke at Christmas time. “Ha Ha, Mum always puts socks in our stockings”.

So, last year I decided to break with tradition and tucked a pair of undies at the bottom of my boys’ stockings.  I know, even more odd.

You know what’s coming, right?

Bemused, both my sons said “But Mum, where’re the socks?”.  You’ve got to laugh.

So, this year I’m going back to socks and even though they’ll laugh, I know deep down they love the tradition of it.

What do you put in your children’s stockings, year after year?  …and I don’t mean DVD’s and chocolates.  Spill the beans on your weird ‘tradition’ – if you have one.

Keep on raising great kids everyone – and have a wonderful Christmas :)

For even more Christmas tales:

Creative Women Online – The Story of Christmas for Kids

Dinner in Ten Minutes – Easy Christmas Cake Recipe

Parks in Sydney – Christmas in the Park

New Life on the Road - Our First Christmas Living in our Motorhome

Weekend Getaway Ideas – Christmas Destinations

Lisa’s Healthy Lifestyle Challenge – Christmas Shopping List

Rita Pepper Online – Christmas Past and Present

Raising Great Kins Blog – Christmas Stocking Oranges and Socks

Jan Littlehales

17 Responses to “Christmas Stocking Oranges and Socks”

  1. What a wonderful tale about how the christmas stocking first started. “Santa” brings my kids stockings each year as well but they have a special pillow case which they put on the end of their beds and gets magically filled up by morning. I have told them they may be too old for Santa to visit this year but I think sometimes santa gets more enjoyment out of it then the kids lol

  2. Hi Jackie,
    Yes, Rabbi Brasch tells a wonderful story – supposedly all true :)
    I can remember my Christmas presents being tucked into a pillow case too – although I did have a smaller Christmas stocking as well. Christmas time brings back so many happy memories.

  3. John Davis says:

    The paragraph about Oranges is interesting. It`s amazing how we hold onto things which are maybe no longer relevant to now. Thanks for including oranges in Xmas stockings. Each generation has there own unquestioned beliefs.

  4. Hi John,
    It is amazing how we hold onto things – and the things we remember from our childhood. I always think is wonderful that we generally only remember the good things :)

  5. Lisa Wood says:

    Hi Jan,

    I so love reading about your Mums traditions, and then how you started your own tradition…..with socks! I never realised about the story of xmas – with St Nicholas trying to save the two young girls. I love the story from Rabbi Brasch – really reminds us to be so very grateful for al that we have, and also to appreciate what we have in our life. I really want christmas (for our family) this year to be about giving with our time :)


  6. Thanks Lisa – I think you’re going to have one of your best family Christmases ever in your motorhome. Don’t forget to let me know when you’re heading to Sydney :)

  7. Kerry Lea says:

    What a lovely story about the Christmas Stocking. Have you ever put an orange in the boy’s stockings? How we take things for granted. I can only imagine in the war years if a child found an orange in their stocking they would be so excited.

  8. Hi Kerry,
    Yes, the Christmas Stocking story is lovely – as told by Rabbi Brasch.
    I’ve resisted putting an orange in my boys stockings – figured a pack of socks was weird enough :)

  9. Jennifer Mulholland says:

    I found your blog post while searching for information on raising kids. I love this post on Christmas. I had never heard the Christmas Stocking story. It is a wonderful story. My parents always gave us oranges and a variety of nuts in our stockings, we thought it was fun to see the nuts still in the shells. I have not yet made a tradition with my kids stockings.

  10. Hi Jennifer,
    Glad you enjoyed the Christmas Stocking story – I love it too.
    How funny that you also got oranges in your stocking. Now that I think about it, I used to sometimes get nuts in their shells too :)
    Thanks for dropping by and commenting

  11. Zira says:

    I love this! thank you for sharing. :)
    My mom always put a jar of pickled veggies in my stocking. All my friends thought that was the strangest thing, but I absolutely love pickled snacks! I put a can of smoked oysters in my sons stocking because he loves them. If I forget to put those in the stocking, I sure do hear about it! :)

  12. Hi Zira,
    How wonderful, pickled veggies and now smoked oysters.
    Personal traditions like these sure do make Christmas special :)
    Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

  13. Claire says:

    some strange selections for stocking but i suppose everyone has their own traditions, when i was a child we always got nuts(still in shells), an orange, apple, shiny new coins(£1, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p, 1p)all hasd the year of that xmas on, oh and a terrys choc orange, still carry that tradition on with my children now.

  14. Hi Claire,
    Terry’s chocolate orange – yum! I too used to sometimes get one of those – and I still love them today. Nuts still in their shells is a fine English tradition. We didn’t get them in our stockings, but there was always a bowl full of them and a nut cracker on the side to help with the shell cracking. Happy days :)

  15. Mary says:

    Great story about the gold coins. I live in the U.S.– actually my family has been here for 7 generations. However the English roots are still with us! My father always put an orange in the bottom of our stockings and I put an orange in the bottom of my children’s stockings. I keep finding out that so many of my families traditions are rooted in our English/ Scotch ancestry. It’s really cool to find these things out! I had no idea!

  16. Hi Mary,
    Good to hear you enjoyed the gold coin story …and it’s always nice to come across another mum who puts oranges in her children’s stockings :) long may the tradition continue!
    Thanks for dropping by.

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