Advent stories and messages from around the world
Why are those stockings hung on the mantle?
December 15th, 2021
There are many stories about how hanging stockings on the mantel at Christmas got started.
My favorite story involves the original St. Nicholas, who was known to help others. There was a needy family with three sisters. One night they were drying their stocking on the mantel of the fireplace. Saint Nicholas took it upon himself to prepare 3 small bags of gold coins for the sisters. Supposedly, he dropped the bags of gold coins down the chimney, and they landed in the girl’s stockings.
(I have also read that this money was given so the family wouldn’t have to sell their daughters as indentured servants or even prostitution.)
For some reason, Germany seems to be involved in many modern-day Christmas traditions 😊. For example, traditionally, the children in Germany hung an empty sock on the mantel on Saint Nicholas Day (December 6th). In this way, Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, or Santa Claus would fill them with toys and candy.
These Christmas stories of receiving gifts from St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, and the like are fun, endearing, and joyful.
But let’s remember something. Any gifts we receive in a stocking, under the tree, or in our driveway with a big red bow on top are gifts that will only last temporarily.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
Jesus tells us that earthly treasures are temporary, or as the famous line says, “You can’t take it with you!” If our life is all about accumulating “stuff,” then that’s what our heart is all about. Our hearts can be filled with greed for more and more stuff, never being satisfied with what we have.
But, God gave us a gift that will never rust, never get old, and has no end date. He gave us forgiveness of sins through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. And this was and is a free gift, not because we deserved it or loved God, but because God loved us.
By God’s Grace and through our Faith in Jesus Christ, we are saved and now are blessed with the promise of Eternal life. No one can take that away from us. It’s set in stone. As a Christian, I am saved, and so are you.
Enjoy your Christmas. Hang the stockings, put up the tree, and exchange presents. Don’t forget to share the story of Jesus and the great gift He gave us with your friends and family. Amen.
Dear Lord, thank you. You’ve taught us to be giving and caring people. We do this throughout the year, with a particular emphasis at Christmas time. This year as we exchange gifts and come together with family, help us to remember your perfect gift to us, Jesus. Amen