The tradition of Christmas stockings originated in the generous deeds of a nobleman named Nicholas who was born in 280 A.D. in Asia Minor. Nicholas dedicated his life to following the principles of Jesus Christ, using his wealth to help impoverished and suffering people. He became the Bishop of Myra in his young years, and was immensely popular for his kind, generous heart. Living a lifetime of celibacy, Nicholas never married or had children, but he loved children and thus often regaled those who lived in his hometown. This practice provided him with the epithet “the gift-giver of Myra.” Interestingly, his nobility never prevailed his modesty, so he always gave his presents late at night in order to protect his identity. He didn’t like the children to know who their patron was, so they were often told to go and sleep or otherwise he wouldn’t visit them.
One of the legends regarding Christmas stockings takes us to a small village where the destiny of the once wealthy merchant and his daughters changed overnight when they fell into poverty. The father was worried about the future of his children and afraid that he wouldn’t be able to provide dowries for their marriages in the future. At that time, this meant an almost humiliation due to the impossibility of wedlock. While the now-famous St. Nicholas traveled, he passed through the village and heard the sad story about the merchant and his daughter, learning from the locals that he would not accept any gifts of charity.
One night, while he was riding his gorgeous white horse, he stopped at the merchant’s home and threw three bags filled with gold coins down the house’s chimney. The bags fell down right into the girls’ stockings which were hung by the fireplace mantle to dry. The next morning, the daughters and their father discovered the coins and jumped for joy. The young women married happily and prosperously, so, obviously, their story had a happily ever after. The details of their story spread among the villagers, whose children began hanging their stockings by the fireplace, hoping to receive presents from St. Nicholas