The Tradition of Christmas Stockings

Gifts or coal which one will it be? Yes, this is the question many children ask when they wake up on Christmas morning and rush to their Christmas stockings to see what they have received. The contents of these stockings usually answer the question as to whether they have been naughty or nice. Yes, Christmas stockings are an endearing image of Christmas tradition yet, surprisingly, many people are not familiar with the origins or the meaning behind them.

On Traditions and Symbols

Christmas is a holiday that is loaded with a variety of symbols and traditions. Part of the reason for that is that so many cultures and nations celebrate Christmas and have been celebrating it for so many centuries, that there has been a convergence of different aspects on the holiday. In other words, one country may have one unique tradition and another may have its own unique traditions.

When immigrants from these two countries converge on another country, they bring their own traditions with them and eventually the new homeland adopts both traditions into one collective whole. This is the case in America where many different cultures have brought many different traditions from different time periods with the enviable result that America has the most expansive Christmas holiday and tradition of them all and, of the many symbols and traditions of Christmas, one of the more endearing is the image of Christmas stockings.

The Early Origins

The early origins of the tradition of Christmas stockings seem to derive from Germany as this is why the practice started. While most people center today on the notion of coal in the stockings for bad boys and girls, the original purpose of the stockings was to provide a spot for five gifts that each related to the five senses. This origin has long since been abandoned and has become an obscure notion. Interestingly, originally there were no "Christmas stockings" when the practice started as people simply used their own - for lack of a better word - standard stockings. As the practice became more and more popular, creative artists began to develop the Christmas stockings of red, white and green color that we are all familiar with today.

The image of Christmas stockings added a new facet to Christmas morning and this addition of a whimsical new tradition from Germany quickly became universal in theme and has been adopted by many cultures all over the world and is now a major visual image and decoration of Christmas morning.