What would Christmas be without a fireplace and a nice roaring fire? Just the thought of Christmas conjures up images of stockings hanging on the hearth, filled with lots of yummy goodies and fun little gifts. Waking up on Christmas morning with those warm, inviting flames flickering across the room simply completes that cheery Christmas spirit.
Even when there is no real fireplace available, people have clung to the idea of a fireplace at Christmas by using the cardboard version. Christmas just wouldn’t be the same if there was no place to hang those precious stockings!
But where and when did this great tradition start? It has been said that the tradition began long ago in many European countries. There are various theories, but here is one of the most popular: There once lived an old man, who had three daughters. These daughters were of marrying age, but since they were very poor, they could not afford the dowry that was needed to get married. However, they were too proud to accept charity.
A man named St. Nicholas heard of this poor man and his three daughters and decided he would like to help them in some way without hurting their pride. He saw that the daughters had washed their stockings on Christmas Eve and had hung them up to dry in front of their fireplace. He waited until everyone had gone to bed, and then he threw three bags of gold down through the chimney. These bags of gold miraculously landed in each of the daughter’s stockings.
When the poor man and his daughters awoke on Christmas morning and found the gold, they were overjoyed and thanked God for giving them what they needed. Each of the daughters married and they all lived happily ever after.
Because of this legend, children would hang their everyday stockings, or socks, in anticipation that St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus, would visit during the night and fill the stockings with presents. Over time, this tradition evolved into hanging stockings specifically made for Christmas Eve.
In some countries, the tradition developed a little differently. In France, the children place their shoes in front of the fireplace, instead of stockings. This dates back to when French children wore peasant wooden shoes. In Hungary, children simply shine their shoes and place them in front of a door or window. Dutch children go a step further and fill their shoes with hay and carrots as a gift for the horse of Sintirklass. Instead of putting their shoes out on Christmas Eve, Italian children follow this tradition on the night before Epiphany for the good witch La Befana. In Puerto Rico, the children fill small boxes with flowers and greens for the camels of the Three Kings.
No matter what the tradition or where it came from, everyone loves the time of year when gifts are given with love. Christmas seems to bring out the best in people. It is the time when fond memories of good times are remembered and treasured. Fireplaces and stockings will always be a part of those grand traditions.Image Source : Pinterest