Why are stockings hung by the chimney with care?

The Christmas season is filled with traditions, but some of the traditions that have roots in our modern age have largely been forgotten. One of those traditions, are stockings. Which begs the question why do we hang fancy socks by the fireplace, or anywhere else for that matter?

It turns out it goes back to Saint Nick. Somewhere along the line, the story of him providing dowry for the three poor farmer's daughters a part was added where he dropped the coins down the chimney. The ladies stockings were hung up to dry and caught the coins before they could fall into the ashes. It's a cool idea, but may have been tacked onto the story much later in it's history.

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"I think that is probably a much later development of the story. As best as I know the earliest traditions which date back to, St. Nicholas was a 4th century bishop, the earliest traditions that I'm aware of, these stories date back to the 5th and 6th centuries. So those stories have him throwing bags of gold through the window. Probably as the tradition of putting one's shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with candy, which is a tradition in many cultures, that probably led to the stocking tradition, and eventually all these customs got tied back to St. Nicholas himself," said Fr. Steven Busch, PhD., Amarillo Diocese Schools Director.

It's hard to say where exactly this tradition came from, but I know when I was a kid, I always grabbed my stocking first. Because at 4 a.m., I could get it without waking up my parents.