Christmas stockings are usually festive and stuffed with chocolate, so what's not to love? For the most part, nothing (especially if the stocking is stuffed with Ferrero Roche...). But the lore behind the stocking tradition hearkens back to not-so-merry days for women -- although modern-day life for Mrs. Claus still seems a tad regressive, to be honest.
The most popular stocking origin story goes that jolly old St. Nicholas got wind of a poor widower who didn't have enough money to marry off his three daughters. Without funds for a proper dowry (since marriage was pretty much an economic arrangement back in those days), the destitute dad was down in the dumps that he had a trio of spinsters-in-waiting on his hands. But of course he didn't want a charitable handout, either. So St. Nick had to devise a way to surreptitiously get him some gold.
Then came one of the most famous "aha moments" in Christmas history. While the family slept, St. Nicholas shimmied down their chimney and dropped coins into the daughters' stockings, which were hanging conveniently on the mantle to dry overnight. And presumably everyone lived happily ever after because the girls didn't have to become spinsters after all.
It's the original Christmas miracle!
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