What are stocking fillers

What are stocking fillers?

Traditionally a Christmas stocking would have been an empty sock hung by the fire on Christmas eve in the hope that St Nicholas (Santa Claus or Father Christmas) would come and fill it with gifts.

The origin of the tradition is often attributed to St Nicholas, who, wanting to help three poor girls who were facing prostitution, threw three bags of gold through there window one night, allowing them to be married with a dowry. Some versions of the story tell that one of the bags landed in one of the girl's stockings, while other versions say he threw them down the chimney and they landed in stockings that were hanging to dry above the fire.

Variations of the story also say that it was gold balls rather than coins which are often represented with oranges and may also be where the pawnbroker's symbol of three gold balls comes from. St Nicholas is also the patron saint of pawnbrokers.

Originally Christmas stockings would have been ordinary socks that would be filled with small gifts, fruit and coins on Christmas eve. Hence stocking fillers or stocking stuffers would be small toys that would fit inside. Over time special stocking shaped bags made for this purpose appeared and now a stocking might be anything from a knitted sock shape to a huge plastic sack.

What is a stocking filler?

For most children in the western world it is now Father Christmas who fills their stockings sometime between when they go to bed on Christmas eve and wake up Christmas morning. Providing they have been good of course, with the threat that if they misbehave they’ll receive nothing but a piece of coal.

For this reason, stocking fillers might be thought of as things that Santa and his elves can make in their workshop, spinning tops, puzzles, and other wooden toys as well as homemade or hand-sewn items. Although small is key if it’s going to fit in a stocking and many people will have an additional Santa gift that doesn’t quite fit, or just get an extra-large sack to accommodate it.

Apart from the traditional orange and coins stocking stuffers are also often little gifts that can keep children entertained before mum and dad wake up or while they make breakfast. For this reason items like colouring pens, little puzzles, chocolates and books are popular choices.

Stocking fillers may also be everyday things such as pants and socks, a new toothbrush, bubble bath or flannels. These are great stocking stuffers as they are things that would need to be bought at some point anyway so don’t add too much in the way of extra expense.

Basically though anything you put in a stocking is a stocking filler. What you put in stocking fillers is up to you and could be anything from a satsuma to a tablet.

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