The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
– “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” aka “The Night Before Christmas” (1823)
From Smithsonian Magazine, Emily Spivack tells us about the cultural origins of those Christmas stockings that old St. Nick fills with such care for us each year. Debate still endures about which of two New Yorkers first wrote the poem, but the origin story is usually pretty faithful to this version:
St. Nicholas was wandering through the town where the man lived and heard villagers discussing that family’s plight. He wanted to help but knew the man would refuse any kind of charity directly. Instead, one night, he slid down the chimney of the family’s house and filled the girls’ recently laundered stockings, which happened to be drying by the fire, with gold coins. And then he disappeared.
The girls awoke in the morning, overjoyed upon discovering the […]