The History of the Christmas Stocking

Hanging the stockings on the chimney with care, is one of the most exciting parts of Christmas! You take out your beloved stocking, which has so many memories of Christmas pasts, and place them with eager anticipation for what Christmas this year will hold. But where did this tradition come from? Who do we get to thank for this all-important part of Christmas?

In truth, no one really knows, but we have found these two origin stories which fills us with a touch of Christmas magic, joy and nostalgia.

St Nicholas

St Nicholas is a big name in Christmas. As the legend goes, there was talk of three sisters, who had recently lost their mother, and had a father who was struggling to make ends meet. Although the girls were beautiful the Father worried that the lack of funds would mean these sisters would never be able to marry. As talk spread along the village, it reached the ears of St Nicholas, who was renowned for his generosity and knew the father would never accept any form of charity. Instead Nicholas crept out at night and threw three bags of gold down the family’s chimney. These just happened to land in the stockings hanging on the fireplace! Excited and relieved the family began to spread the story of this Christmas miracle, soon the whole village were hanging their stockings in hope of a Christmas gift. In honour of this legend, mainly Christmas stockings are filled with symbols of gold, from oranges to golden coins! Next time you receive a Christmas clementine, you can think back to those three lucky girls who started it all.


A lesser known origin story starts with the Germanic/Scandinavian figure Odin. Children would place their shoes filled with carrots, straw or sugar next to the fireplace for Odin’s flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat. Odin would reward the kindness and generosity by replacing the food with gifts or candy! Whilst there is little evidence to back this story, we like to think it shows community spirit and gift giving at the most wonderful time of the year!

We would love to know where you hang your stockings. It is by the fireplace, on a door handle, under the tree or maybe you have a special tradition of your own? Get in touch and let us know or share your pictures with us as we love to see and you may even end up in our subscribers magazine! You can reach us on Facebook or Instagram.

If you would like to create your own stocking, why not check out our article on the best handmade stocking patterns!

Popular in Decorations

Other things you might like in this category