Christmas Oranges

For the last few weeks months I have been very busy with a project. More of that coming when it is completed, sometime in January. But, I thought I would share some Christmas posts that I have posted over the years to get us all in the Christmas Spirit! Today, its all about the Christmas orange! Enjoy!

Christmas Orange

Why Do We Put Oranges in Stockings at Christmas?

1. St. Nicholas and his sacks of gold.

One explanation for this tradition stretches back hundreds of years to St. Nicholas, who was born in what is now present-day Turkey. He inherited a large sum of money, but devoted his life to helping others, and eventually became a bishop.

According to the story, St. Nicholas learned of a poor man who wasn’t able to find suitors for his three daughters because he didn’t have money for a dowry. St. Nicholas traveled to the house, and tossed three sacks of gold down the chimney for each of the dowries. The gold happened to land in each of the girls’ stockings which were hanging by the fire to dry. The oranges we receive today are a symbol of the gold that was left in the stockings.

2. Oranges were once a scarce treat.

Some also offer the idea that fresh oranges were hard to come by, especially in the north, so finding one of these fruits in your stocking was a huge treat, and a way of celebrating the holiday.  By the 1880s, oranges were in plentiful enough supply in the United States, coming from the new states of Florida and California, that they could be shipped across the country via the new transcontinental railway system. So clearly, Santa Claus, working with the local seasonal availability of fresh oranges around winter time and the newly available transportation system, took advantage of those and tucked oranges into the socks and stockings of many American boys and girls on Christmas Eve around the country.

3. A treat during the Great Depression.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, money was tight, and many families simply didn’t have the means to buy gifts. Instead, it was such a treat, even a luxury, to find things like a sweet orange or some walnuts in your stocking on Christmas.

4. It’s the season of giving.

Another theory behind the tradition is that December is the season of giving, and the orange segments represent the ability to share what you have with others.

5. Is there anything better than the fragrance of orange and clove at Christmas? Not Likely!

6. Fragrant citrus fruits were exchanged during holidays for good luck.

Did you ever receive an orange in your stocking on Christmas morning? I DID!

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Joni says:

    No, we didn’t do stockings growing up, but I remember my mother talking about growing up during the Depression. They didn’t always get Christmas presents, but an orange and some hard candy would be placed on a chair for them (not in a stocking) on Christmas morning. She remembers oranges being a real treat, and still enjoys them at 93yr. When my newly married grandmother emigrated from Holland in December 1922 over Christmas week, she told us that if you were sea sick and stayed in your cabin, they would bring you an orange, so she pretended to be sea sick like her travel companions! Oranges were definitely a luxury!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, what good memories! I would have stayed in my cabin too! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jo Shafer says:

    Yes, every year my sister and I each found an orange at the bottom of our stockings, with striped peppermint candy canes on top. It had been a Depression Era tradition in my mother’s childhood home, just as you described. I used to do this for our children when they were growing up. Sometimes, Hubby and I will for each other. It’s fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jo Shafer says:

    Another thought: I grew up having ambrosia for Christmas, too, made from citrus fruits with Maraschino cherries and broken pecans, coconut over the top. It was served with fruitcake at afternoon tea.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We didn’t do stockings, but when I was in grade school, after the church children’s Christmas program on Christmas Eve, all the children got a paper bag with an orange, an apple, nuts, and candy. I’ve thought of doing oranges like this, studded with cloves, but I’ve never made any. They’re quite attractive.



  6. One year, we made the orange clover pomanders in Girl Scouts to give as gifts


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