In which the Gift of Stories begins with an old Saint Nicholas tale
The first story of the season is dedicated to my beloved Santa Jim, who works hard to bring joy to everyone, all year, but especially to children at Christmas.
Saint Nicholas and the Stockings
- a traditional story from Turkey
They say that in that city of Myra, which is now called Demre, there was a poor man who had three good daughters. Each of the daughters was of the age to marry, but the man lacked wealth to provide a dowry for any of them.
In that place in those days, a girl needed a dowry in order to marry, and so those three girls were destined to be sold into servitude.
On the night before the eldest daughter would be taken to the market to be sold as a slave, she washed out her stockings and hung them up by the fire to dry overnight.
In the darkness of the night, the family heard a strange sound of something heavy coming down the chimney.
In the morning, the girl found a heavy ball made of gold inside one of her stockings. This was a very valuable gift, and enabled her to marry well.
So it was for the other two daughters: the night before each would be taken away to be sold, she washed her stockings and hung them by the fire to dry, and in the morning, she found a heavy gold ball inside her stocking!
The third time this happened, the father stayed awake by the fire all night. When he heard the sound in the chimney he rushed outside to thank the mysterious benefactor.
There, he found Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, who often went about the city to help the people while they slept.
From this story, we have taken the custom of hanging our stockings up by the fire on Saint Nicholas’ Day (December 6th) or on Christmas Eve.
The tradition of placing a fresh orange into each stocking is a remembrance of the golden balls given to those three girls by Saint Nicholas, whom we now call Santa Claus.
If two holes wear through your sock within the same week it is a sign that you will soon receive a gift.