Why people hang them, what’s in them, and where to find gift ideas

Why people hang them, what’s in them, and where to find gift ideas

Hanging stockings has been a Christmas tradition for centuries.

They are typically put up on Christmas Eve and filled with food, gifts, and toys — by Santa, of course — but only for those who have been good.

Stocking stuffers usually consist of small, affordable gifts and toys as well as basics like socks or tissues.

Fruit—usually oranges, satsumas, or tangerines—are included, as well as nuts and candy canes. Recently, chocolate coins have become a favorite and socks, whether purchased or homemade, can be designed to fit any budget or style.

Why do we hang Christmas stockings?

There are two countries from which the tradition of hanging and stuffing stockings likely came.

The Dutch shoe tradition is one possibility and dates back to the Middle Ages.

In the Netherlands, on Saint Nicholas Day (December 6), children would fill their shoes, usually clogs, with food gifts for the saint – such as nuts and fruit – and place them next to the fireplace. In return, Saint Nick would leave edible gifts, such as tangerines and presents.

Italy is another country where the tradition may have begun with Befana celebrations. In Italian folklore, La Befana is a kindly old witch who brings gifts to children on Epiphany Night (January 5 or 6).

Dating back to the 13th century, children would leave takeout food out for La Befana, and receive small gifts in return.

In the United States, Christmas stockings are mentioned in an 1823 poem A visit from Saint Nicholasalso known as It was the night before Christmas, By American writer Clement Clark Moore. The letter read: “The stockings were carefully hung next to the chimney, in the hope that Saint Nicholas would soon be there.”

Stocking up on traditions from around the world

In the Czech Republic, the stocking is hung on the window on the evening of December 3, so that Barborka (Saint Barbara) can fill it with sweets, fruits and nuts.

While stockings have become popular for hanging at Christmas time in the United Kingdom and United States, many cultures continue to use shoes instead to give and receive gifts.

In Ecuador, shoes are placed near the entrance and contain a list of toys that children would like to have; While in France, shoes are placed by the fireplace along with a gift of food for Pierre Noel, as well as a gift for his donkey.

In Iceland, children place their shoes on a windowsill so that magical elves called “Olasveiners” leave small gifts over the course of 13 days.

In Puerto Rico, shoeboxes, not shoes, are used for tradition. Young people take grass from the garden and put it in shoeboxes under their beds on January 6 for the camels that the Three Wise Men rode. In the morning, they hope to find the box full of toys and treats.

What if I’m naughty?

If you don’t make your nice list this year, you may find a bunch of not-so-nice items in your inventory. In many cultures, including Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, a piece of coal is left in the socks of naughty boys and girls.

The use of coal as an antidote is thought to have originated in the mid-19th century when many homes were heated by coal fires. As such, Santa would simply grab a nearby block to put in the stocking.

Another theory is that the idea came from Charles Dickens’s 1843 novella Christmas carolwhere Ebenezer Scrooge doesn’t even give Bob Cratchit a single lump of coal to heat his freezing office.

Gift ideas for her

Matryoshka doll bag

This hand-embroidered velvet bag from Powder Design is festive enough to give at Christmas and versatile enough to use all year round.

AED 184, www.boomandmellow.com

Christmas candle

This single wick candle will fit perfectly in stockings and the fresh scent of pine, cinnamon and marshmallow will fill the home with a festive scent.

Dh69, www.bathandbodyworks.ae

Eid poetry clips

Kitsch Pinksettia Three-Piece Hair Clip Set is easy to fit in any bag.

Dh65, www.sanddollardubai.com

Kiehl’s Ultra Face Cream

The very light cream is suitable for all skin types and can be used morning and evening.

145 AED, www.bloomingdales.ae

Crown dish

This versatile brass dish can be placed on a dresser for makeup or cosmetics, or in the hallway for change and house keys.

Dh93, www.westelm.ae

Gift ideas for him

Pill organizer

Perfect for those who travel a lot, or who simply need to keep track of their daily vitamins or medications, the Tidyard Organizer sorts weekly supplements.

Dh33.79, www.amazon.ae

Plaid pajama shorts

Thanks to the colorful retro MTV logo, these pajama shorts can be used as beachwear too.

89 AED, ae.hm.com

Bento box

If packed lunches have become countless Tupperware boxes and sandwich bags, keep everything under control with the Benostar Stainless Steel Bento Box.

AED 40.50, www.amazon.ae

Small wooden tray

This simple mango wood tray is the perfect small bedside storage for coins, earphones, watches and more.

35 AED, ae.hm.com

Crew neck T-shirt

Available in 22 colors, this simple cotton crew neck tee is a staple in any man’s wardrobe.

Dh49, www.marksandspencer.com/ae

Gift ideas for children

Gingerbread house cup

As part of Zara Home’s kids’ Christmas collection, this gingerbread house-shaped stoneware mug simply screams to be filled with hot chocolate.

Dh79, www.zarahome.com/ae

Bubble gun

Available in a range of colours, this bubble gun from Mumuso has 23 holes to create bubbles of bubbles.

AED 22.90, www.theselection.ae

Short story projector

Perfect for young children, this projector from Medair features images of 11 traditional fairy tales on discs that slide into the projector, plus an accompanying book. It also doubles as a night light.

Dh72.67, www.mumzworld.com

Hot chocolate bomb

Made from premium Belgian chocolate, kids will love watching the little marshmallows pop out when hot milk is poured over them.

25 dirhams per piece, www.godivauae.com

Small bonsai grass head

This fun and educational gift from FDTY is perfect for kids of all ages. Simply water these little figures and watch the grass grow. Hair trimming is optional.

AED 49.89 per item, www.amazon.ae

Updated: November 21, 2023 at 4:03 am

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