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Legend of the Christmas Stocking

Stockings are hung up in anticipation of Christmas morning. How did a simple stocking become synonymous with Christmas? Our page on Christmas Stockings will help you if you don’t. How did Christmas stockings become a tradition? Merry Christmas!

Christmas stockings and the folklore that surrounds them.

Stockings are empty socks or bags that children hang on Christmas Eve in hopes that Santa Claus would fill them with gifts. Stocking stuffers or stocking fillers are typically referred to as tiny toys, candy, fruits, money, and other small presents. Present paper is used to wrap larger gifts, which are then put near the Christmas tree.

A benevolent nobleman named Nicholas, who was born in Patara, Lycia, Asia Minor, around 280 AD, is claimed to have started the tradition of Christmas stockings. His affluent parents perished in an epidemic while he was a child. Dedicated to following the teachings of Jesus Christ, Nicholas became a Christian priest and donated all of his wealth to the poor, the needy, and those who were ill or in pain. Young Bishop of Myra, he committed his life to God’s service and was ordained at a young age. As a result of his kindness and charity, Bishop Nicholas became well known across the nation. Nicholas was a genuine celibate; he never married and had no children.

His passion for children, on the other hand, was undeniable, and he regularly presented gifts to the youngsters of his community. Because of this, he became known as Myra’s gift-giver. This affluent man toured the country assisting people and providing money and other gifts to those in need. Nicholas, on the other hand, usually presented his presents late at night, in order to keep his identity a mystery. The youngsters of the time were advised to go to bed fast or he would not arrive! In the end, Nicholas was designated as the patron saint of children and sailors (because of his care for sailors) and became known as Saint Nicholas.

Over the years, Saint Nicholas’ life and acts have been the subject of countless tales and legends. Popular legend has it that a poor peasant and his wife and three daughters lived peacefully in a modest hamlet in Patara, Saint Nicholas’ homeland, in a small hut. A unexpected disease took the wife’s life one day, leaving the impoverished widower and his three daughters distraught. As a result of this, the girls were now responsible for all home tasks, while their father carried on with his life as usual.

Because he realized he would never be able to marry them off to suitable men, the impoverished father grew even more unhappy. To find a spouse in those days, a young woman’s father had to provide something of value, which was called a “dowry.” Because of the lack of a dowry, this impoverished man’s daughters were unable to find a suitable match. The powerless father frantically searched for a solution, while her daughters cooked, sewed, and cleaned on their own.

Saint Nicholas, meantime, had learned about the impoverished peasant’s daughters. The kind saint chose to aid the father because he was aware of his financial situation. This was something he wanted to accomplish behind closed doors. A bag of gold in hand, he proceeded to the peasant’s house and waited for the family to retire before throwing the bag through the cottage’s open window.

After doing their laundry for the day, the daughters put their stockings up to dry by the fireplace that night after finishing their washing. They had no idea that their benefactor was waiting for them to fall asleep nearby. Just as they were about to fall asleep, St. Nicholas crept up to the window of the cottage and peered in. At night, his stockings were near to his grasp, illuminated by the moon. He gently tucked his gold bag inside one of the stockings and slipped out as quietly as he had entered.

The next morning, when the father found the bag and opened it, he was in ecstasy. Enough gold was hidden in the stocking to pay for one daughter’s dowry. In his eyes, it was a gift from the universe. He wondered who had sent it. So, the father was able to care for his daughter and ensure that she was wed to an honorable man.

Saint Nicholas returned a second time with a bag of gold, which he carefully stuffed into a second stocking so that the second daughter would be taken care of.

After opening the bag, he couldn’t believe his eyes when his daughters handed it to him the next morning. A second daughter was able to be married off with this gift as well.

A few weeks had passed and the father was eager to find his mystery benefactor, so he kept an eye out the next night. St. Nicholas returned a third time and this time he was carrying a gold sack on his back. As soon as he saw him, the elderly lord recognized him as a neighbor. In front of the Bishop, he went to his knees, screamed out in joyous thanks, and thanked him from the bottom of his heart. He was able to watch his three daughters get married thanks to the blessings of St. Nicholas, the impoverished father. After that, he had a long and happy life.

As a result, Christmas stockings are believed to have originated in Europe. This same Saint Nicholas may have inspired Santa Claus, with Santa denoting Saint and Claus, Nicholas.

Christmas stockings and shoes are already being hung, and youngsters are excitedly anticipating gifts from Santa Claus. A simple pair of daily socks was first utilized, but as time went on special Christmas stockings were fashioned for this purpose. Many different types and sizes of Christmas stockings may be purchased in gift shops all around the world nowadays. Stockings for the holiday season are also available.

Christmas stockings are also a popular handmade craft in modern society. Individual stockings are made by certain households for each member of the family. So Santa knows which stocking belongs to every family member, many families sew their own Christmas stockings with each member’s name on them.

Christmas stockings are sometimes the only gifts a youngster receives from Santa Claus in various countries. Because of the western Christmas tradition, bad-behaving children will not receive a present in their Christmas stocking, but rather a lump of coal.

A present that stimulates the five senses is often placed in the Christmas stocking. The stocking must be put on the fireplace mantel as part of the traditional Christmas celebrations. The stockings may be hung in practically any position in a modern home, as many do not have fireplaces.

It is still a custom for youngsters throughout the world to hang up their Christmas stockings on December 25th. When the stockings go up, kids throughout the world know that the most anticipated time of year is not far behind.

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What to Do with Santa: Should he be part of a Christian Christmas?

In my first blog, “Who Is Santa, and What Does He Have to Do With Christmas?” I explained who Santa is and what he has to do with Christmas. I talked about the origins of the historical St. Nicholas. The dilemma now is what to “do” with Santa Claus in terms of our family holidays.

Now that I understand this is a contentious issue for many Christians, I hope we can all accept one other’s decisions. Many of the families I like the most in the world have opted to exclude Santa from their family festivities (others do not even celebrate Christmas at all). I admire these families’ determination to keep the focus on Christ, and I have no intention of convincing them differently.

However, I am aware that some parents, like myself, have wonderful childhood recollections of Santa’s dreams and jingles. Though I completely agree that the focus should be on Christ during the Christmas season, I was wondering if it was essential to get rid of all the old books and ornaments with Santa references. As I pondered this issue, a multitude of thoughts raced through my head.

To begin with, youngsters adore imagination. That is why so many children’s stories have talking animals, fairies, magic, and other supernatural elements. Children can benefit from fantasy in terms of both creativity and imagination. Parents may play an essential part in clarifying what is true and what is fiction as their children develop and begin to discern between imagination and reality. Is this applicable to Santa fantasies? For guidance on this topic, I turned to two of my favorite fantasy authors, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

Tolkien, well known for his Lord of the Rings trilogy, has four children. He wrote letters to his children in the name of Father Christmas for 20 years (the English counterpart to Santa Claus). He added his own drawings of Santa Claus, the North Polar Bear, and the North Pole (which he depicted as a literal pole). One year, Father Christmas’ slightly clumsy sidekick, the North Polar Bear, had an incident that prompted Father Christmas to relocate:

“It all happened like this: one very windy day last November my hood blew off and went and stuck on the top of the North Pole. I told him not to, but the North Polar Bear climbed up to the thin top to get it down – and he did. The pole broke in the middle and fell on the roof of my house, and the North Polar Bear fell through the hole it made in to the dining room with my hood over his nose, and all the snow fell off the roof into the house and melted and put out all the fires and ran down into the cellars where I was collecting this year’s presents, and the North Polar bear’s leg got broken. He is well again now, but I was so cross with him that he says he won’t try to help me again. I expect his temper is hurt, and will be mended by next Christmas.”

Even the North Polar Bear would occasionally write a letter to the children. He had to explain his “poor English spelling” because the language spoken at the North Pole was Arctic. The North Polar Bear became stranded in Goblin caverns one year (1932) and later “invented an alphabet from Goblin marks on the walls, and delivered a brief message in it.” The kids had a fantastic time decoding the letter.

Tolkien’s buddy C. S. Lewis is most known for his Chronicles of Narnia, in which he portrays a more serious Father Christmas. Despite the fact that the White Witch had made Narnia “always winter and never Christmas,” she was losing her powers. Here is a story of Father Christmas’s visit:

“It was a sledge [sleigh], and it was reindeer with bells on their harness. But they were far bigger than the Witch’s reindeer, and they were not white but brown. And on the sledge sat a person whom everyone knew the moment they set eyes on him. He was a huge man in a bright red robe (bright as hollyberries) with a hood that had fur inside it and a great white beard that fell like a foamy waterfall over his chest. Everyone knew him because, though you see people of his sort only in Narnia, you see pictures of them and hear them talked about even in our world — the world on this side of the wardrobe door. But when you really see them in Narnia it is rather different. Some of the pictures of Father Christmas in our world make him look only funny and jolly. But now that the children actually stood looking at him they didn’t find it quite like that. He was so big, and so glad, and so real, that they all became quite still. They felt very glad, but also solemn.”

Father Christmas declares, “She [the White Witch] has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening.” He proceeds to give gifts and even delivers sugar, cream and tea “for the moment.” Then he called out, “‘Merry Christmas! Long live the true King!’ and cracked his whip, and he and the reindeer and the sled and all were out of sight before anyone realized that they had started.”

Clearly, Tolkien and Lewis were fans of the Christmas fantasy. I really appreciate how Lewis utilized Narnia’s Father Christmas to draw attention to Aslan, the actual King (understood by literary scholars to be a type of Christ).

The beauty of our American Santa Claus is that he is descended from a real figure, St. Nicholas, who was a true servant of Christ (not a competitor). Because American children are bombarded with pictures of Santa Claus throughout the Christmas season, there are several opportunities to discuss the actual St. Nicholas, a man whose life should encourage us to serve God more fully.

I’ve opted to stress the historical St. Nicholas’ charity with my children. One of the most well-known legends about St. Nicholas includes his discreetly giving gold to a father and his three daughters who had become penniless due to tragedy. Giving presents in Santa’s name is essentially a kind of anonymous giving. Secret generosity is compatible with how St. Nicholas presented presents, and it also follows Jesus’ admonition to keep our giving hidden. As Jesus put it, “Your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:4).

I’ve always informed my kids that the real St. Nicholas is in paradise with God and that all the nonsense that surrounds Santa is simply “fiction.” My children are still young and like “make-believe” stories (just as they love me to make up fairy tales every night before they go to bed). Despite my efforts to stress the contrasts between what is genuine and what is false, truth and fantasy, non-fiction and fiction, my children do not always understand these distinctions. However, I am confident that with time and coaching, they will be able to acquire this discernment. When that time comes, I want to be able to assist them in seeing that our Christian tale is far superior to fiction since it is miraculous, historical, biblical, and true.

 

 

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Who Is Santa? And What Does He Have to Do with Christmas?

For many Christians, Santa Claus is nothing more than a secular diversion from commemorating one of the greatest events in human history: the birth of Jesus Christ. But, no matter how much we try to separate Santa from Christmas, he is impossible to ignore. His image may be found everywhere. So, what do we answer when the youngsters inquire, “Who is Santa? ” We may utilize this inquiry, like any other from our children, as a teaching opportunity.

In this first part of a two-part piece, I’ll discuss some of the fascinating information I discovered concerning Santa Claus’s identity. Part two will focus at what we can “do” with Santa at our family holidays.

Santa Claus is an English translation of the Dutch name for St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas. Though the modern Santa Claus is linked with a fantasy world, St. Nicholas was a pious man recognized for his kindness and generosity.

Nicholas was born in Patara in the third century to affluent Christian parents (a harbor city in modern day Turkey). Nicholas and his parents could most likely trace their spiritual ancestry back to the Apostle Paul, who arrived at Patara on his third missionary tour 200 years before.

Nicholas’ parents were believed to be devoted Christians who had long wished for a child. When Nicholas was born, they dedicated him to God. As an only kid, he was lavished with love and particular care. However, when Nicholas was still a young kid (probably a teenager), his city was afflicted by a plague, and both of his parents died. Though such a tragedy may push some people away from God, it appears to have pulled Nicholas closer to him. The boy’s heart seemed to have become more sensitive to the pain of others as a result of the death of his parents.

Nicholas was handed a substantial inheritance and decided to put it to good use by honoring God. He established such a strong reputation in his locality that he was appointed Archbishop of Myra (a port city just south and east of Patara) when he was in his early twenties, indicating that he must have shown knowledge and maturity above his years. A brutal persecution of Christians began during his tenure as Archbishop.

During this period, Nicholas was probably definitely imprisoned and tortured for his beliefs. The persecution that began under the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian was continued for eight long years by his successor, Galerius. Surprisingly, after Emperor Galerius, Constantine, the first Christian emperor, became the unchallenged ruler of the West. By 324 A. D. , Constantine had seized control of the whole empire and made Christianity a legitimate religion.

When the persecution stopped and Christians acquired new religious freedom, they were confronted with new problems. Serious doctrinal disputes began to arise. Constantine understood the necessity for Christian unity, so he convened bishops from throughout the empire at Nicea in 325 A. D. to examine key theological problems. Nicholas of Myra is named as one of the bishops present at this gathering. Nicholas had no idea that his name would one day be more renowned than any other in attendance at the council that produced the famous Nicene Creed.

There are several anecdotes about Nicholas’ life, many of which highlight his goodness and charity. Following his death on December 6, a gift-giving ritual was started in his honor.

St. Nicholas Day is still celebrated on December 6 in many countries, but in others, such the United States, the traditions connected with the day have been merged with Christmas. Many Christians thought it was appropriate that a festival honoring giving would coincide with the birth of Christ, the greatest gift ever given to the world. However, the union was met with dismay by many Christian authorities, who believed that St. Nicholas was diverting too much focus away from Christ. Parents in Germany were urged to educate their children that the Christ Child was the giver of gifts. Kriss Kringle is the English translation of the German term meaning “Christ Child. ” In America, however, the name Kriss Kringle became associated with St. Nicholas, St. Nick, Santa Claus, and even the English moniker Father Christmas.

St. Nicholas was often represented in Middle Age art as a tall, slender, bearded clergyman. So, how did he become the Santa we know today in America? Santa’s white beard and red outfit are quite similar to the bishop’s robes worn by Sinterklaas in the Netherlands. The chubby and plump aspect of America’s Santa Claus, on the other hand, maybe traced back to the 19th-century poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas – an attempt to establish a more pleasant picture of Santa and convince youngsters that they had (in the poem’s words) nothing to dread. Though the current Santa Claus has deteriorated into a secularized character surrounded by fiction, his image may serve to remind us of the true St. Nicholas, a man who dedicated his life to serving God and inspired others to do the same. All saints (all Christians) exist to bring honor to God, not to diminish him.

We celebrate Christmas because God himself came to earth in corporeal form, in actual flesh and blood. However, once he went to heaven (and his physical body was no longer on earth), Jesus entrusted Christians to be his “body” (1 Corinthians 12:27). According to all accounts, St. Nicholas lived a life that assisted others in seeing Christ. How might we follow in his footsteps and assist others in seeing Christ in us (as genuine flesh and blood) at Christmas?

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Don’t Forget Santa’s Cookies and Milk: Learn The History Behind This Popular Christmas Tradition

On Christmas Eve, American children have been setting out cookies and milk for Santa Claus for decades. But, how did this Christmas meal tradition begin?

Today, children in the United States have a well-established custom of setting out a plate of cookies (Oreos and traditional chocolate chip are popular options) and a glass of milk for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. But it hasn’t always been like this. According to one explanation, the cookies-and-milk custom evolved from an ancient practice in which households would fill stockings with sweets for Santa and hang them by the chimney, his favored route of entry, as a greeting present. These days, however, those stockings are generally stuffed with snacks and little presents for the family members themselves.

Leaving cookies and milk for Santa—along with possibly a few carrots for his reindeer—became a popular American Christmas custom during the Great Depression in the 1930s. During that period of severe economic difficulty, many parents attempted to teach their children the importance of giving to others and showing appreciation for the presents they were fortunate enough to receive on Christmas. Many youngsters still leave cookies and milk out for Santa, whether out of goodwill or (in less healthy situations) as a bribe to obtain additional gifts from the jolly bearded guy in the red suit.

The origins of this festive culinary custom may be traced all the way back to Norse mythology. Odin, the most prominent Norse deity, was supposed to ride an eight-legged horse named Sleipner, on which he placed a raven on each shoulder. During the Yule season, children would leave food for Sleipner in the hopes that Odin would swing by and give presents in return. Such a custom is still practiced today in nations such as Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands, where youngsters think that horses, rather than reindeer, transport Santa’s sleigh. On Christmas Eve, they leave carrots and hay (sometimes packed into shoes) for the animals to eat. In exchange, people may expect to get festive goodies such as chocolate coins, cocoa, mandarin oranges, and marzipan.

Various countries have created their own variations of the cookies-and-milk tradition over the years. Children from the United Kingdom and Australia abstain from sherry and mince pies, while Swedish children abstain from rice porridge. When delivering presents in Ireland, Santa may anticipate a pint of Guinness along with his cookies. Children in France leave a glass of wine for Père Noel and fill their shoes with hay, carrots, and other gifts for his donkey, Gui (French for “mistletoe”). In Germany, youngsters forego food in favor of writing handwritten letters to the Christkind, a symbolic embodiment of the Christmas spirit who is in charge of giving gifts on Christmas. Though many German children mail their letters before the holiday (there are six official addresses for letters addressed to the Christkind), others leave them out on Christmas Eve, adorned with glittery glue or sugar crystals. The letters were gathered on Christmas morning, and gifts were put in their place.