Union Ridge Church

Thursday, December 3, 2020

by Reverend Dan on December 3, 2020

"They opened their treasures and presented him with gifts."

                                                            Matthew 2:11


Ever wonder where the idea of a “Christmas Stocking” came from?


It started way back in the 4th century with a man named, appropriately enough, St. Nicholas. Jolly Ole St. Nick was a bishop from Greece during the height of the Roman Empire, and even though he was a busy man (he is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, prostitutes, brewers, pawn brokers, unmarried people, students, and children), his fame came from his habit of secret gift giving.


The Christmas stocking originated through one of the legends regarding St. Nicholas. There was once an old man who had three daughters. The family was very poor, having lost everything, and this meant that the man had no dowry with which to “marry off” his daughters. So, unless something changed, the girls would live to be lonely old maids. Add that to the fact that the man was too proud to accept charity, and the future for this family seemed bleak indeed.


That’s where St. Nick comes into play. He knew the old man wouldn’t willingly accept a handout, so one night, after his daughters had hung their socks by the fire to dry, St. Nicholas snuck up to the window and threw three bags of gold through it, and one of them landed in one of the stockings. The next morning, the man and his daughters awoke and were overjoyed at their good fortune. Eventually the daughters all got married and lived happily ever after.


And thus, a tradition was born. At first, children would hang the socks they wore by the fireplace and they’d be filled with fruit, hard candies, and coins in honor of St. Nicholas. Over time, however, the stockings have become larger and more ornate, resulting in what we have today.


St. Nick was said to have performed this wonderful deed the night of December 24th, and that’s why unbeknownst to many, another name for Christmas Eve is St. Nicholas Day. Just a few years after his death in 343 A.D., many believe it was this legend that played a major role in leading Pope Julius I to pronounce December 25th as the official Christian celebration of Christmas. And that’s why we celebrate the greatest gift of all – Emmanuel, God with us, on this very day.


My favorite Christmas Stocking memory? The book of Life Savers. That’s Christmas to me. What’s your favorite Christmas Stocking Stuffer memory?


"Father, Thank you for the gift of Christmas, and the joy associated with it..  In Jesus' name, AMEN."


Christmas Bonus:

Because they viewed Christmas as a decadent Catholic holiday, the Puritans in America banned all Christmas celebrations from 1659-1681 with a penalty of five shillings (about three days wages) for each offense.