Tuesday, December 22, 2015

An Orange in My Stocking

Sharing with you today an older post, but a favorite childhood memory of mine.  
Merry Christmas  


When I was growing up I always had a Christmas stocking. Hung somewhere in the house, usually the banister, waiting to be filled by Santa Claus. Except, my stocking wasn't filled with candy or small toys. Every year, when I would check its contents, it would be full of oranges and nuts, always in their shell. Sometimes, there might even be an apple in it. As a child, I found this to be rather curious. My friends didn't get fruit and nuts in their stockings. I was convinced something was wrong at my house.
As I matured, I came to understand that it was more of a tradition for an orange to be placed in a Christmas stocking. And, until recently, I thought it was due to oranges being more of a rare item for people in the past. Many years ago, and especially in poorer communities, oranges were just not readily available. Receiving an orange in the winter was a true treat indeed.
It seems that the tradition of an orange in the toe of your Christmas stocking originates with a certain Nicholas. He was born in a village in what is now known as Turkey. He became wealthy through an inheritance, but spent his time helping the poor. Eventually he became a Bishop in the New Christian Church.


Bishop Nicholas learned of a poor man with three daughters who had no dowries. And, without dowries, they could not marry. Bishop Nicholas took it upon himself to take three bags of gold coins and toss them down the poor man's chimney.....which somehow happened to land in the daughter's stocking that were hanging up to dry in front of the fireplace.


The bags of gold turned into balls of gold which now symbolize the oranges. Bishop Nicholas is often shown in pictures wearing a red ceremonial robe and miter, while holding the staff of a bishop as well as holding three gold balls, gold coins, or pieces of fruit. He was later canonized and made a saint. Thus we know him as Saint Nicholas.


So, we have him to thank for those wonderful oranges in our stockings on Christmas morning. They do fill out the toe rather nicely, I think.



56 comments:

  1. I like the simplicity of fruit and nuts in the stocking. But I'm sure you were kind of disappointed as a child. :)

    I grew up in a really poor family. One Christmas one of my older brothers bought us a box of apples - you know the kind that comes in a cardboard 'crate' box and each apple is wrapped in paper. It was truly a huge treat the whole family enjoyed! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's funny you wrote of this today. My father has told many times of how he and his brother (and sisters, too, I suppose) were "tickled to death" to get an orange in their stocking at Christmas. I need to write that down for my kids before I forget it.

    It also makes me feel very blessed and/or spoiled to think of what we feel we "have to have" for Christmas anymore in comparison to what people were happy with back them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. How interesting! I always had an orange, maybe an apple, and nuts in my stocking, too. I never had heard the story of Bishop Nicholas.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very thoughtful and interesting post. We used to get fruit and nuts in our stockings as well -- in the old days, it was a very special gift. We seem to take so many things for granted these days.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post. Love the story. Have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I remember my dad telling me about getting a orange for christmas and if they had a good year there would be some nuts too....

    ReplyDelete
  7. Curiously in our tradition we do this for Epiphany, on January six. The stockings are, in theory, filled by an ugly witchlike being called 'Befana'.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh what a wonderful story....and I am the same way about an orange in the toe of my sock:)
    When I was little- one year my mom forgot to put an orange in the toe.....I felt almost disappointment because it was like something was missing. (Even after all the other wonderful things that were there!) She remembered while we sat down to breakfast- jumped up, and ran to the orange bowl- passing them out.
    There's just something about an orange:))

    ReplyDelete
  9. That reminds me of one of the Christmases written about by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We love her books!

    I don't have a lot to put in my children's stockings this year. Usually I've got a few trinkets that I've found through the year but not so this year.

    It's not far away now. I can't believe how fast December is going!

    ReplyDelete
  10. That is so interesting. My siblings and I too always got nuts (in their shells) and oranges. I was always so disappointed because no one else I knew did. I could ask my parents the reason why, but I don't think I will. I like your story and I'll be disappointed if there was a totally different reason...like it was all they could afford ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. this is a very nice article, very cute your vision of your childhood, what matters this christmas period is to offer a little happiness to those who have nothing, for me christmas makes sense if you share it ! :)

    Bye**

    ReplyDelete
  12. My mother grew up in a VERY large family and oranges and nuts were truly a TREAT for them.

    Check out this book which is a precious story of a family and THEIR oranges at Christmas...we read it every year and I cry EVERY time!

    http://www.patriciapolacco.com/books/frankie/frankie.html

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for sharing that today. We always got an orange as well.

    ReplyDelete
  14. My girls and I are reading the Little House series and they were shocked to hear that for Christmas, the girls were thrilled to receive a penny, a cup and a peppermint stick. I'm searching for ways to make Christmas more about giving (time and things) to others instead of receiving.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I never read this take on Saint Nicholas and his kindness with the gold coins and now our symbolic oranges. Most interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  16. An outstanding entry of yours !


    May you all have a wonderful Sunday.

    daily athens

    ReplyDelete
  17. I did this tradition in my boys stockings one year. My oldest thought I had lost my mind! haha.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yep, I always got an orange in my stocking too. Thanks for the background on why oranges are often put in stockings.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I remember one Christmas when I was small that my father gave me a while orange at the dinner table and that was the only gift I got that Christmas. And my sister got nothing. I hope I shared it but honestly don't remember.

    So glad you got to see our baby factory shutdown after the last new model, Melissa.the last new model, Melissa.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I always got an orange too. Thanks for the REST of the story.

    ReplyDelete
  21. It has become a tradition for our family to get a huge bag of M&M's in each of the Christmas Stockings.I use them mostly for decoration anymore, but when gift opening time comes, I manage to slip the M&M's in and give each to the rightful owner. With the prices and our weight going up so much in the last few years, we have downsized the bags of M&M's to a smaller size.

    ReplyDelete
  22. What a nice and interesting posting! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Oranges are fine with me. A very sweet story.

    ReplyDelete
  24. We usually found oranges and apples in our stockings too. The nuts stayed in the bowl and in their shells. Dad loved cracking them,, but we haven't had nuts in shells for a while now..... hmmm...... Great story!

    ReplyDelete
  25. We were just talking about this today! I grew up getting an orange some nuts in the shells some chocolate candy and candy canes in my stocking and sometimes a little gift. I made my daughters stockings like that too and had them about half full of little toys all individually wrapped. Now her kids get all gifts individually wrapped and candy minus the oranges. We were explaining to them how oranges and nuts could be a real treat in winter , but they weren't going for it. Guess there won't be any oranges this year.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks for this post. I remember getting an orange in my stocking at the end of the bed with a small present. It was very memorable although I had no idea what it meant at the time.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I love this post. Great blog.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I had never heard that story before, thanks for telling it. I don't remember having Christmas stockings when I was young. But we always had fruit and nuts.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I enjoyed reading the legand behind the traditional Christmas orange, FarmChick. My 80 + year old Mom always told us how her Christmas orange was such a big gift! Her Mom was an immigrant from the Ukraine and Christmas trees were not a custom or hanging stockings. The orange was placed in a shoe along with a few coins. My Mom often wondered how my grandmother was able to find one in winter in rural Pennsylvania!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I never knew that...we always got fruit and nuts in our stockings when we were growing up....

    ReplyDelete
  31. I've never heard that story before. Thanks for sharing it!

    ReplyDelete
  32. ALWAYS GOT THE ORANGES, NEVER HEARD OF THE NUTS. MY PARENTS DID IT AND I HAVE KEPT IT UP FOR MY FAMILY, NICE TO SEE THERE IS A STORY BEHIND IT NOT JUST MY FAMILY TRADITION.

    ReplyDelete
  33. What fun to hear of your childhood and also learn the story of St. Nicholas. I always put a special tangerine in the toe of my 3 children's stockings because I thought it was good to add something healthy with the chocolate and candycanes.. and Hot Wheels and other small treats.

    ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉
    *M*E*R*R*Y* *C*H*R*I*S*T*M*A*S*!*
    ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉

    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

    ReplyDelete
  34. i nice re-post that popped up in my reader. i was going to comment about the box of apples - but i see that i did a few years ago. :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. I always got an orange in the toe of my stocking. :) Oranges were a treat, and we didn't get them until Christmas. I got nuts in my stocking too, but there was usually some candy and a few little trinkets as well.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Love learning this story. My sister and I always had nuts in our stockings, but I don't recall an orange. I do miss the nuts, and often by them just for the nostalgia.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Great post, but I am really craving and orange now. xo Laura

    ReplyDelete
  38. We had the same tradition! Oranges and nuts in their shell! Now I know the story behind it - thanks for sharing. xo karen

    ReplyDelete
  39. How nice to learn of this tradition. When my mother was a girl the only time they ever got a orange was if they were sick.

    ReplyDelete
  40. We always received an orange as well and I thought is was because of the rarity as well. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  41. A wonderful Christmas story, Michelle. Thanks and Merry Christmas to you and yours....:)

    ReplyDelete
  42. I know a few folks that received an orange in their stocking. Could not understand why but thanks to you I now understand the tradition's roots. -- barbara

    ReplyDelete
  43. I had forgotten the origin of the orange in the Christmas stocking - I put them in our stockings every year!

    Blessings to you and yours for a happy holidays and joyous New Year ~

    ReplyDelete
  44. Have a terrific holiday season!!

    ReplyDelete
  45. How cool is that. When we were kids we didn't have stocking but instead our parents gave us a bowl with candy and an orange in it. We thought we were so lucky. Merry Christmas to you & yours.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I did not know that about the oranges! Thanks for sharing. Lovely picture of your nutcrackers and Bert :-). Happy New Year!!!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Never heard of this but my Mother grew up on a homestead in Montana and the only time she got an orange was when she was sick.

    ReplyDelete
  48. What a lovey Christmas tradition and memory. I wish you the Merriest Christmas ever this year and an orange in your stocking as well!

    ReplyDelete
  49. I always love this story. Thank you for sharing it again.

    ReplyDelete
  50. MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS....
    Love, Titti

    ReplyDelete
  51. Thanks for sharing the story of this tradition, Michelle. oranges are much healthier than candy in the stockings too!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Growing up, we always had an orange, an apple and some nuts in their shells in our stockings too. I always thought it was because we were so poor and Santa couldn't bring much else for our stockings. Sure brings back memories....

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hope your Christmas is lovely!

    ReplyDelete
  54. What an absorbing story. There have been oranges in our stockings from time to time, but more because we have them available than because of an understanding of the heritage. But, beginning next year, I hope to remember the story and to place oranges in stockings purposefully.

    ReplyDelete