Many of you may know all about the age-old tradition of placing an orange in a stocking for Christmas morning. Some of you may even know from personal experience!
I can’t say that this has ever been a tradition in my family. But after a liiittle bit of digging online, I found some explanations for why and how this custom began.
One theory for this tradition is that during the Great Depression, little luxuries, sweets, etc. were difficult to come by. So a treat like a luscious orange or even some nuts was a welcome surprise.
Also, have you heard the story of Saint Nicholas? No, not Santa Claus, but Saint Nicholas. He was a man long ago who inherited lots of money, spent his life helping others, and eventually became a bishop. There is a story that he once helped a poor man who could not find anyone for his daughters to marry because they did not have a dowry! According to this tale, Saint Nicholas went to the man’s house and lobbed three sacks of gold down his chimney. And lo and behold, guess where they landed…
Well, their stockings, of course! Which means that today, the orange that is in your stocking or mine represents that generous sack of gold.
These days you can find an orange anywhere. But did you know that there was a time when oranges were scarce? Imagine what a treat it must have been to find a rare fruit in your stocking! Especially at Christmas. 🙂
The theory I love most is simple and sweet — just like the fruit itself. It is that the orange segments represent the importance and your ability to share the things you have with others during this beautiful season of giving.
After all, isn’t that what this time of year is all about?