Beyond the presents under the tree, Christmas stockings are something kids of all ages enjoy discovering. This has long been a tradition for most families. Families have been placing stockings on the fireplace mantle awaiting a surprise come Christmas morning for centuries. It started with children hanging everyday socks up on Christmas Eve night, but has slowly encompassed the entire family, including the beloved pets.
It is believed that the Dutch brought this holiday tradition to America. As far back as the 1500s, Dutch children would place straw in their clogs by the fire for the reindeer, and a treat for Sinterklaas. There are many other cultural traditions that Christmas stockings bear their roots from. They have essentially been a part of holiday tradition here in America since the early 1800s and memorialized in “A Visit From Saint Nicolas.” Likely a look back at family photos would bring some chuckles as hosiery was commonly used, or socks with not too many holes in them. These are filled during the night with fruit, toys, and candy, and these treats are often referred to as stocking stuffers. During the Depression, this became quite a treat for people who could not afford anything beyond their current needs. Children would receive oranges and apples, which were hard to come by and considered a luxury is some parts, and small pieces of candy – quite a treat indeed.
Stockings are one of the most sought after holiday decorations. Newlyweds often opt for a new set for their first home, and pet lovers will hang one for each of their furry friends. Popular Christmas stockings are baby’s first Christmas in blues and pinks, or the trendy Mr. and Mrs. for newlyweds. Either one can be given as a gift at a shower or as a holiday gift. For dogs, there are bones, a Santa sack, or a large paw with room for personalization. For cats, there is a fish, smaller paw, and, of course, a mouse ready for the pets name across the top.
There are dozens of Christmas stockings available online. The selection is almost endless. There are numerous sizes, from life-sized to miniature, small enough to tuck a precious piece of jewelry in. Some are narrow, others are wide, and some look like they are from Whoville. Colors vary from the traditional red and white to very bright and vibrant oranges, lime green, and bold purples. Sports fans can choose their favorite team sock to hang by the fire. Children and even grown-ups that have a favorite cartoon character or animated character from a movie or TV show have a range of choices as well. Some are very simple with the character’s famous sayings, and others are more elaborate with lots of embellishments. Some even light up and play music.
Christmas stockings have sure changed over the years, and have become quite a centerpiece to many families’ hearths.