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The History of the Sock: A Christmas Holiday Tradition

By Gail Leino

"How on earth could the history of a sock influence culture?" one might ask. Associated with the Christian religion, Christmas has adopted just such a tradition in a big way. For years and years we look forward to nothing other than the important traditional hanging of our sock over the fireplace on Christmas Eve in hopes that Santa Claus will leave us some great gifts but seldom do we ask ourselves why a sock or who started such a crazy idea. There are several theories: the Dutch, the North American, or the poor, kind nobleman are just three of many possibilities.

The Dutch theory suggests that during the sixteenth century it was a widely practiced ritual of Holland children to leave snacks out for Sinterclass along with their clogs full of straw, which Sinterclass used to feed his donkey. For this favor, Sinterclass would leave the children treats in their clogs. It is said that when Americans adopted this tradition, Sinterclass became Santa Claus, the donkey became a reindeer, and the clogs became socks.

The rather bland idea that the North American culture adopted the practice of hanging socks over the fireplace as an effect of popular literature is much less exciting. Stated to have simply arisen from illustrations of Thomas Nast drawn for a famous Christmas story written by George Webster in the 19th century leaves the imagination somewhat less than teased.

The last but quite possibly the most exciting idea revolving around the historical impact of socks on Christmas is the tale of the poor kind nobleman. It is said that this man of three daughters, whose wife died early, had no money for a dowry needed so his daughters could marry. Distraught without any idea of what to do, his daughters finished their laundry and hung their socks over the fireplace to dry. Saint Nicholas, saddened by such despair, waited for all to retire to bed and then scurried up to the rooftop. Dropping three bags of golden nuggets down the chimney with one landing in a sock of each daughter they awoke to find each had enough to marry.

No matter which tradition you believe, the sock has definitely had a profound impact on the celebrations of Christmas, much to the delight of children everywhere.

 

Mrs. Party... Gail Leino takes a common sense approach to planning and organizing events, celebrations and holiday parties with unique ideas for birthday party supplies and fun free educational party games. She explains proper etiquette and living a healthy life while also teaching organizational skills and fun facts. The Party Supplies Hut has lots of party ideas with hundreds of free coloring sheets, printable games, and free birthday party activities. Over 100 adorable Animal Socks to fit your birthday celebration, holiday event, or "just because" parties. Animal socks include Armadillos, Beagles, Tigers, Bichon Frise, Bulldogs, Cats, Corgis, Dolphins, Elephants, Ferrets, Lions, Humming Birds, Koalas, Lobsters, Manatee, Owls, Pandas, Parrots, Penguins, Pigs, Polar Bears, Pomeranian, Pugs, Raccoons, Ring Tail, Crabs, Sea Otters, Sea Turtles, Sheep, Skunks, Birds, Squirrel, Frogs, White Tiger, Zebras etc.

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