Wait, Why Do We Hang Christmas Stockings? (Plus 24 Little Gift Ideas)

Wait, Why Do We Hang Christmas Stockings? (Plus 24 Little Gift Ideas)

December 08, 2017

When you bust the holiday decorations out from the attic or basement each year, does your box include a couple of stockings? There’s one for you, one for each person in the house, and maybe even one for the pets. Every year, you hang them on the mantle or by the tree, but do you ever stop to think about why? Sure, the prospect of more presents is reason enough, but the tradition of hanging stockings goes back hundreds of years, through different cultures.

St. Nicholas

One of the stories that started the stocking craze comes from St. Nicholas. That’s right--the very saint who inspired the story of Santa Claus. It’s said that there was a man who lived in St. Nick’s village who couldn’t afford dowries for his three daughters, meaning that they couldn’t marry. St. Nicholas knew that this man would never accept charity face to face, so instead he sneakily threw some gold coins down the family’s chimney. The three daughters had just happened to be doing laundry at the time, and their stockings were hanging by the fireplace to dry. Thus, the gold coins fell into the stockings, where the girls found them the next morning. St. Nicholas was a patron saint in many Central and Western European countries, so the tradition of hanging stockings by the fire took off in places like Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Sometimes oranges are used to represent the coins, since they share a similar hue.


St. Nicholas doesn’t have a monopoly on foot-related gifts, though! In Northern Europe, where Norse mythology was the main religion before Christianity, there exist different traditions centered around Odin. The king of the Norse gods, Odin was said to travel around the land at the end of the year, looking for brave warriors who could join him in Valhalla. Odin rode a magical eight-legged flying horse named Sleipnir. Children would leave their boots out by the door overnight sometime in December, stuffed with hay and carrots for Sleipnir to eat on his journeys. In the morning, the children would wake to find little presents, presumably left behind by Odin. As Scandinavia  transitioned to Christianity, Odin was replaced with St. Nicholas.

In the U.S.A.

These traditions of hanging stockings and leaving out boots traveled to the U.S. with the European immigrants of the 18th and 19th century. The first written acknowledgement of American Christmas stockings comes from a poem written in 1823 that ends with St. Nick having “fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,/And laying his finger aside of his nose/And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.” The tradition stuck, and in America we still hang those stockings as a festive testament to the Yuletide season.


Searching for some little gifts to fill stockings of your own this year? We’ve got you covered. Below are a couple of categories of products that make the perfect little addition to your festive foot-coverings.

Lip Balm

[GDC_row] [GDC_column size="half"] Labello Lip Balm [/GDC_column] [GDC_column size="half"] Sweet Comb Chicago Lemon Lip Balm [/GDC_column] [/GDC_row] [GDC_row] [GDC_column size="half"] Jack Black Lip Balm [/GDC_column] [GDC_column size="half"] Smith's Rosebud Lip Salve [/GDC_column] [/GDC_row]

Classic Lip Balm by Labello | $5.50 | Shop Now →

Lemon Lip Balm by Sweet Comb Chicago | $3 | Shop Now →

Mint Intense Therapy Lip Balm by Jack Black | $7.50 | Shop Now →

Smith's Rosebud Salve in a Tube by Rosebud Perfume Co. | $6 | Shop Now →


Votive Candles

[GDC_row] [GDC_column size="half"] Archipelago Botanicals Black Forest Candle [/GDC_column] [GDC_column size="half"] Malin + Goetz Vices Candle Set [/GDC_column] [/GDC_row] [GDC_row] [GDC_column size="half"] Nest Holiday Candle [/GDC_column] [GDC_column size="half"] Diptyque Frosted Forest Candle [/GDC_column] [/GDC_row]

Black Forest Tin Candle by Archipelago Botanicals | $15  | Shop Now →

The Vices Votive Set by Malin + Goetz | $45 | Shop Now →

Holiday Votive Candle by Nest Fragrances | $16 | Shop Now →

Frosted Forest Votive Candle by Diptyque | $35 | Shop Now →

Mini Sizes

[GDC_row] [GDC_column size="half"] Nivea Creme from Germany [/GDC_column] [GDC_column size="half"] Zum Christmas Chi Mini Soap [/GDC_column] [/GDC_row] [GDC_row] [GDC_column size="half"] Marvis Classic Strong Mint Travel Toothpaste [/GDC_column] [GDC_column size="half"] 4711 Watch Bottle [/GDC_column] [/GDC_row]

Nivea Creme (30mL) by Nivea | $2.95 | Shop Now →

Mini Christmas Chi Soap by Indigo Wild | $3.10 | Shop Now →

Marvis Classic Strong Mint Travel Toothpaste by Marvis | $6 | Shop Now →

4711 Watch Bottle (Uhrflasche) by 4711 | $6.95 | Shop Now →


Travel-Friendly Fragrance

[GDC_row] [GDC_column size="half"] L'Aromatheque Violette Perfume Extract [/GDC_column] [GDC_column size="half"] Sfumato Siren Song Natural Fragrance [/GDC_column] [/GDC_row] [GDC_row] [GDC_column size="half"] Sabe Masson Eu Vent de Vous Soft Perfume [/GDC_column] [GDC_column size="half"] Hi Wildflower Botanica Lovers Rock Rollerball Perfume [/GDC_column] [/GDC_row]

Violette Perfume Extract by L'Aromatheque | $9.50 | Shop Now →

Siren Song Natural Fragrance by Sfumato | $30 | Shop Now →

Eu Vent de Vous Soft Perfume by Sabe Masson | $24 | Shop Now →

Lovers Rock Rollerball Perfume by Hi Wildflower Botanica | $59 | Shop Now →

Sheet Masks

[GDC_row] [GDC_column size="half"] BioBelle #iwokeuplikethis Facial Mask [/GDC_column] [GDC_column size="half"] Eau Thermale Avene Soothing Sheet Mask [/GDC_column] [/GDC_row] [GDC_row] [GDC_column size="half"] Klorane Cornflower Patches [/GDC_column] [GDC_column size="half"] Petite Amie Love Emoji Masque [/GDC_column] [/GDC_row]

#iwokeuplikethis Facial Mask by BioBelle | $5 | Shop Now →

Soothing Sheet Mask by Eau Thermale Avene | $9.50 | Shop Now →

Cornflower Patches by Klorane | $24 | Shop Now →

Love Emoji Masque by Petite Amie | $10 | Shop Now →


Great Giftable Design

[GDC_row] [GDC_column size="half"] Kent Mustache Comb [/GDC_column] [GDC_column size="half"] Jack Black Comfort & Joy Gift Set [/GDC_column] [/GDC_row] [GDC_row] [GDC_column size="half"] beautyblender [/GDC_column] [GDC_column size="half"] Underberg Collectable [/GDC_column] [/GDC_row]

Folding Mustache & Beard Comb by Kent | $15.95 | Shop Now →

Comfort + Joy Gift Set by Jack Black | $18 | Shop Now →

Micro.mini Beautyblender by Beautyblender | $18 | Shop Now →

Underberg 2 Pack in Collector's Tin by Underberg| $6.50 | Shop Now →



The Legend of the Christmas Stocking

Don’t take Odin out of Yule

Nicholas of Myra

The History of Santa Claus and Father Christmas

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