by Wendy VanHatten

Traditions have an interesting history. As a kid, we always had an orange in our stockings. Did you?

This is one version of how that tradition started. IMG_6303In the 14th through the 18th centuries, giving someone a perishable gift of an orange was a way to show how wealthy and influential you were. They were a luxury only someone with great wealth could afford.

Since the 1800s oranges have made their way into Christmas stockings in Europe and America. This tradition goes back to when Bishop Nicholas learned of a poor man with three daughters who had no dowries and could not find suitors to marry them. He tossed three bags of gold for the daughters’ dowries through the chimney, with happened to land in the stockings the three maidens had hung by the fireplace. The bags of gold turned into balls of gold which are now symbolized by oranges.

During WWII oranges were rare and sometimes made their way into soldiers’ rations.