The Birth of the Christmas Stocking: A Time-Honoured Tradition

What is it about family traditions that open the floodgates of our memories and warm the cockles of our hearts? Most often observed during a holiday, traditions learned during childhood are carried into adulthood without question or missing a beat.

Mum’s special stuffing – always the same every year, dad’s life-sized Santa standing by his sleigh and reindeer up on the roof, and Christmas stocking toes filled with a big navel orange.

I may not have the big ole Santa on my roof, but I still make my mum’s stuffing every
Thanksgiving, and a stocking is not a Christmas stocking unless the toe is plumped up with an orange.

Do you ever wonder where your family traditions began? I’ll bet if you asked your parents, the answer would be “because that is what my parents did.” We need no other explanation; hence the tradition lives on.

The Christmas stocking – my all-time favorite tradition – has quite a compelling past and although each story has the same happy ending, the specifics change from country to country.

Legend has it that the tradition of filling stockings with gifts started back in the fourth century when a kind nobleman, with three marriage-minded daughters, was too poor to pay their dowries. Saint Nicholas heard of the father’s despair and stopped by their home one evening. Everyone was already in bed; peeking in the window, St. Nicholas saw the daughters’ stockings hanging by the fire to dry. He climbed on the roof and threw three bags of gold coins down the chimney into the daughters’ stockings so the dowries could be paid. The girls were married and they all lived happily ever after.

As the story traveled around the world and through the years, it was twisted and tweaked, as stories often are. In some countries, stockings were replaced with shoes - some as empty vessels ready to welcome small gifts, cookies or candy, and some filled with gifts for the giver.

In Holland, wooden shoes are left by the fireplace filled with hay and a carrot for Sinterklaas’ horse, which is replaced with gifts during the night.

The French version dates back to when wooden peasant shoes were worn by the children, who placed them by the fireplace waiting to be filled by Le Pere Noel.

In Italy, shoes are left out the night before Epiphany, January 6th, as opposed to Christmas Eve. Instead of Santa, La Befana, the good witch, is the bearer of surprises.

The children in Hungary shine their shoes until they can see their expectant faces in them, and then place them near a door or on a windowsill to be stuffed with treats.

In Puerto Rico, small boxes are filled with flowers and greens, and then tucked under the bed for the Three Kings’ camels.

In Canada, it is tradition for Santa to stuff the toe of stockings with oranges (hmm…), and in China children hang stockings made of muslin, which are filled by Dun Che Lao Ren.

Here, in America, it seems bits and pieces of these traditions have weaved their way through the ages into our homes, all starting in the 1800’s with Twas the Night before Christmas by Clement Moore Clark and illustrated by Thomas Nast.

Today, the tradition of the Christmas stocking, although glittered with yet more tweaks and twists, carries on. The anticipation when hanging that empty stocking is the same; the happy ending as you tear into the delights inside is the same. Santa still earns his cookies and milk - the difference is in the stuffing.

Christmas Stockings

Stockings, once filled with little toys, fruit, nuts, cookies, and candies, are now filled with iPhones, diamond earrings, the occasional set of car keys, and gift cards for a coveted Babolat tennis racquet, leather jacket, or snowboard.

Although Santa has upped the ante from trinkets to high end treasures, the romanticism of the Christmas stocking remains the same at every age.

For me, digging my way through the gifts and the walnuts, to the orange – the grand prize – conjures up memories of Christmases past; always warming my heart, maybe bringing a tear or two as I remember my mum, and never ceasing to turn the corners of my mouth into a big smile.

How about you? What is the one thing that finds its way into your family’s Christmas stockings year after year?

Suzi Martel, founder of In Suzi’s Words, is a freelance lifestyle writer, from Southern California, who has a passion for writing informative, entertaining copy on a variety of topics such as; sports, exercise, healthy living, and caring for others.

Exploring The Meaning Of The ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’

Many people will recognise the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ as a traditional song sung during the festive season, but have you ever stopped to consider what you’re singing about? Obviously, the song is talking about Christmas and the seasonal holiday, but the different aspects of the song also have other meanings that can be linked back to Christianity.

Of course, most Christmas carols have their roots in religion as Christmas is after-all a Christian holiday. The song is thought to have been published for the first time in 1780 in England, but other sources suggest it actually originated in France.

The twelve days that are referred to in the song are actually the twelve holy days in Christianity, which begin on the 26th December and finish on 6th January. These holy days have a lot to do with pagan rituals as well though, as they’re intrinsically linked to astrology - the night between 24th and 25th December is supposedly a Holy Night when the sun (seen as Christ in Christianity) begins its journey from north to south.

In the middle ages in England people spent the twelve days enjoying glorious feasts and celebrations. People still follow the twelve days of Christmas tradition today in the UK - Boxing Day (the first of the twelve days) is a national holiday and people always take their Christmas decorations down on 6th January (the twelfth day).

Returning to the song though, it’s thought that it might have been written to help youngsters learn about the Catholic faith during the time in which it was outlawed as a religion in England. There are a number of supposed meanings for the lyrics in the song as well, for instance, the partridge in a pear tree can be seen as Jesus, the two turtle doves could be the Old and New Testaments of the bible, the three French hens could be the three kings that appeared at Jesus’ birth, and the six geese a-laying could be the six days that God spent creating and populating the Earth.

The lyrics for the Twelve Days of Christmas song aren’t set in stone though, as there are a number of variations. The variations include different gifts sung about in the song, and in the USA the song opens with the line ‘on the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me’, whereas in the UK the singer’s true love ‘sent’ the gifts to them.

The connection with France stems from a song published in 1855 called ‘Le premier jour d’l’année’ or ‘Les Douze Mois’ which has very similar lyrics to the English Twelve Days of Christmas song, making many believe that the English version is a butchered copy of the French one. The French lyrics refer to (once translated) partridges, turtle doves, ducks, dogs and rabbits, and the song progresses in the same way as the English version. There are also other songs originating from Scotland and Australia that bear an uncanny resemblance to the song, but no one knows for sure which one came first.

While there’s no definite meaning or understanding of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, why not have a guess at what each gift means when you sing it this Christmas?

This guest blog was contributed by Paul Burkin a freelance writer who enjoys the festive season and often blogs about where to find the best Personalised Christmas Cards.

10 great Christmas foodie inspirations

Tis the season to stuff your face. This year, why not do it in style with some posh nosh that you feel really proud to have on the table. Here’s ten ways to inject some luxury into the ten days before Christmas.


1. Prosecco Party Time

What’s Christmas time without popping open a bottle of bubbly amongst friends and work colleagues. As the working calendar slows down for you (hopefully), it’s prime to cheers and see the world the way it was always intended to be seen – as an effervescent orb of fun and mischief. 


2. Duck Terrine Delights

Take the most succulent and tasty parts of an animal, and whiz them together with a decadent array of herbs, cream, potato and gelatine. After it’s set, serve the terrine with crusty fresh bread and dips. This is yet another gratifying starter, that settles people in for a night of foodie enjoyment. Vegetarians shouldn’t fret, terrine can come in all manner of varieties from pea and asparagus, to the gorgeous chestnut and ginger.   

http://pixabay.com/en/appetizer-canape-canapes-cheese-20572


3. Cheese Platter Combos

A delectable selection of cheeses can really kick off social gatherings on the right note. Forman & Field do delectable cheese platters. Add contrast to the tart and bitter flavours of particular cheese varieties with sweet and juicy grapes, pomegranate seeds and cherries. Adding a touch of the Mediterranean to your Christmas gatherings is a wise idea.  It makes for great nibbling and grazing fodder for those bovine lazy afternoons. 


4. Mince Pie Magnificence

Where would Christmas in Britain be without granny’s favourite – the humble mince pie. For many people, these little babies are the true essence of Christmas. You may eventually tire of the fruity mince flavour of orange peel, maraschino cherries, mixed spice and so on, but until then, try some pre-emptive festive cheer.


5. Cold Meat Connoisseur

We’re not talking about a drab breaded ham from the supermarket. Get creative and go left field with cold selections of meat that include venison, spicy parma ham, proscuitto and German or Polish sausage. 

6. Saucy Minx

Use a wide selection of sauces, dips, glazes and dressings on meats, salads and everything else that can be eaten.  Normally, a ”less is more” Zen approach to food applies; forget this at Christmas, and tumble head first into ruinous and gluttonous flavour combos. Ask questions later. 

http://pixabay.com/en/balls-christbaumkugeln-glaskugeln-65333


7. The Epic Gingerbread  

Gingerbread comes in countless permutations and can be flexible enough to become a table decoration, tree decoration or stocking filler. It’s arguably just as tasty as chocolate and probably healthier too. 


8. Macaroon Madness

'Macaroon madness' takes a normal lounge room environment and adds colourful petite fours and macaroons, some wine and several hungry people.  Pretty soon it's a whirlwind of bedlam in there, and later on, only crumbs remain. 

http://pixabay.com/en/oily-olives-paprika-feta-cheese-58745


9. Liqueur Licence

Pairing all of the delectable morsels with the right wine can get a bit dull. Instead of doing this, take some tangy and refreshing liqueurs in citrus flavours like apple, lime and orange and leave them on the table along with ice and soda water.


10. Opt for a hamper

Preparing a huge meal doesn’t need to be a hassle on Christmas day. Instead, opt to have Christmas hampers full of goodies delivered straight to your door. Perfectly cooked and ready for the table.


Resources

Festive Winter Holiday Treats

Further inspiration about how to make Christmas unforgettable for the kids.

BBC Christmas Recipes

More tried and tested Christmas recipes

House to Home Christmas

House to Home’s novel and beautiful solutions for Christmas decorating, gift ideas and home crafts. 

Time to get ready for the festive season

The countdown has almost started and with just over two months until the day we have been waiting for since last year, it is time to get on with the preparations! If you are those who like to receive people in their home for Christmas, start planning now to make sure your guests will mark the date on their agendas. Let your family and friends know that you will be hosting the festivities (as usual?) so you can get organised.

Preparation is everything

Maybe it is time to change your menu and to add something to the turkey-followed-by-christmas-pudding traditional dinner? But to make sure it is still perfect, make a few dry runs before in the next two months.

Yet another Christmas dinner

If you want to have a choice when it comes to decorations, like those little angel name holders, you might want to start tracking them before everyone else invade the shops. By shopping early, you can compare items and get the best ones without the stress of the last minute rush.

Christmas decoration

Presents and chocolates will be hitting the shops soon too, so then again don’t wait to get them. You will take more reasoned decisions now than in a couple of months. This also means that you will be able to enjoy the run up to Christmas with a more relaxed attitude without having to run with everyone else. There will still be things to get nearer the time, so get what you can out of the way as soon as possible!

Give Your Home and Office an Attractive Look with Luxury Christmas Trees

With Christmas approaching, everybody can feel the festivity in the air from the very beginning of December.  During this time, we all get busy cleaning and decorating our homes and offices, buying gifts, new clothes, and more. This is also the best time for the service and retail industries to gain profit. Therefore, to attract more people, they spend a large amount on the luxury Christmas decorations

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Almost all offices, malls, hotels, and other commercial centers across the globe use commercial Christmas trees and luxury Christmas decorations to mark the celebration of the holiday season. But finding a commercial Christmas tree is a difficult job because they are usually big and artificial, so they are not easily available in regular stores. Have you ever thought from where do these commercial centers get such huge commercial Christmas trees and how do they manage luxury Christmas decorations?

Get commercial Christmas trees and luxury Christmas decorations

At present, you will find lot of rental businesses in your own locality that offer a complete Christmas package. It includes a large Christmas tree and various luxurious and pretty decorative items. If you don’t want to venture outside, you can simply login to the Internet and search for the best rental business with offers that suits your requirement. You will find commercial Christmas trees in various sizes and designs. Nowadays, it is also possible to place an order for a Christmas tree from another country.

These rental businesses not only rent out the commercial Christmas trees and luxury Christmas decoration services, but also offer after festival services in which they pick up the tree and other pricey decorative products. So this way, these commercial centers can stay hassle free and concentrate on their business.

Rent Luxury Christmas decoration services

The skilled interior designing professionals from the selected rental businesses can change the look and feel of your place with their expertise and luxury Christmas decorations. The lavish products for decorations include variety of Christmas displays like Moore lights, Lake Country Christmas, Mint Julep Christmas and many more. Moreover, the lamppost decorations, banners, and Christmas bows also add beauty to the luxury Christmas decorations.

The Tree

The Christmas decoration is incomplete without a commercial Christmas tree. These trees are available in different sizes, shapes, colors and hues, and even wacky varieties like LED trees, colored trees, flocked trees, and fiber optic trees. These skillfully decorated, huge commercial Christmas trees are placed both outside and inside commercial centers along with other decorative ornaments and toys.

The luxury Christmas decorations also includes variety of commercial Christmas tree accessories like tree toppers, tree skirts, Christmas ornaments, wreaths, and tree stands. So, don’t waste your time and start browsing for commercial Christmas trees and luxury Christmas decorations online.

Keith Kirkham works for christmas tree hire. However, his keen interest in creative writing has inspired him to write on different topics. Apart from his job, He also loves story writing, travelling, and clicking pictures. The luxury Christmas decorations during Christmas excite him a lot.

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