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My Blog

The Tradtion of Hanging the Stockings for St. Nick

Good morning everyone.  We are officially past hump day and heading towards the weekend once again.  For those of you who celebrate the season and the tradition of hanging your stocking on St. Nicholas day, here is your chance. 
For those of you who may have never heard of this tradition, St. Nick was born into very wealthy and prosperous family.  He had become orphaned at a very young age and donated his inheritance to those in need and to the poor.  He was made the bishop of Myra at a very young age and was also put in prison where many priests and bishops were.  Now as the story continues...Nicholas had heard about this father who had 3 daughters.  He wanted his daughters to have a good life...but in order for this to happen, the man had to pay a dowry, which he did not have...and thus, he daughters would become old maids without money.  One night, Nicholas heard of the poor man's plight and while passing through his home, Nicholas tossed in a bag of gold coins through the window.  The coins landed up in the stockings that were handing on the fireplace to dry.  This is were the tradition of hanging stocking came from, in hopes that they would become filled.  The tradition of hanging stockings and honoring St. Nicholas came long before the celebration of Santa Claus
.Good children receive treats – candies, cookies, apples and nuts – while naughty children receive lumps of coal. In Germany, children still put a shoe outside their bedroom doors on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, and hope to find candy, coins and maybe a small gift in them on Dec. 6. In the Netherlands, children put their shoes in front of their chimneys in hopes of finding chocolate or a small toy in their shoe when they wake. 
Thinking back to when I was young, this was a tradition is our household.  We were of Polish descent, as far as I knew, and now, knowing that this was predominantly a German tradition...I cannot help but wonder how we can to celebrate the day.  Non the less, I thoroughly enjoy the message that it brings....  Helping those who are less fortunate and in need.  
When I think of Christmas stockings, I remember having very special ones that were hand stitched and decorated.  When my children were born, my cousin made these beautiful red and white checked, lined stockings that were decorated with felt angels. She had embroidered their names on the cuff at the top.  I still have those stockings.  Many Americans hand their stockings to be filled on Christmas Day, and have never heard the story of St. Nicholas.  It would be a wonderful story to share with them. 
I have even made pure white stockings to give with a poem about filling that stocking for Jesus.  Here is the poem in case you would like to add this tradition to your list.
It wasn't that anyone had really been forgotten, no children had been slighted or made unhappy and no adult had been left unremembered. The presents had all been distributed and all the stockings were beautifully filled, all that is except one;It was the stocking intended for the child of Bethlehem. Of all the people belonging at that Christmas gathering, only he had been forgotten. Only he had been left out of the festivities. This didn't seem quite right, in as much as it was His birthday that was being celebrated. This year, the little white stocking will be hung in a special place in our home . On Christmas Eve, we will gather the family together And each of us will write on a piece of paper, A gift for Jesus to be placed in the stocking. It will remain in the stocking Until next year's Christmas Eve, When we will reach into the stocking and pass out the papers from the year before. We hope that you will enjoy beginning this Holiday tradition in your home. 
One year I remember going to my Aunt's home every day to work on a stocking for my Grandmother.  It had to be stitched and  sequins were sewn on.  It had this beautiful Santa on the front.  I worked on it as a surprise for her.  It seemed that as I grew older, I had realized that every one had a stocking hung except for her and I wanted to be the one to give her that gift. 
She was very surprised that year when she opened that present.  Her eyes twinkled that day that same that I would have imagined they say that Santa's eyes did.
As for stockings...the most popular Christmas ornament that I paint is always the fireplace with the stockings hung and I can personalize names on the stockings.  so whether St. Nicholas is  celebrated or not...the hanging of the stocking tradition seems to be carried on in some form or another. 
One of the dearest songs I hear and causes me to become quite melancholy is the one where they sing "Hang the stockings, right by the chimney, and won't you hang one for me too.   Fill them all with sweets and goodies...as we used to do!"  It reminds me of my grandparents and also my daughters. As I hang the stockings today, I will fill mine with the memories of those I love.  My family...oh how I miss them...and Jesus...oh how grateful I am for His gifts.   

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