Monday, December 12, 2011

Oranges and Gold by Paty Jager

Ever since reading about Laura and Mary receiving oranges in their stockings for Christmas in the book The Long Winter, I've wondered about the significance of an orange in a stocking.

My grandfather in California raised oranges and we always received a box of citrus and nuts from him in December, so an orange in my stocking wasn't something that would leave me in awe. But the books and movies in that time period that made a big deal out of the event made me go looking for info on the subject.

In the 1880's oranges were plentiful in the U.S. being raised in Florida and California. And with the transcontinental railroad they could be transported efficiently. With oranges being harvested in the wintertime it was the perfect "fresh fruit".

The story I found that best tells why an orange is placed in the toe of a Christmas stocking has to do with Bishop Nicolas of Turkey. There was a poor man who had three daughters he wished to marry off but they were so poor they had no dowries. Because the man was a good man, on Christmas Eve Bishop Nicholas tossed three bags of gold down the chimney. A bag landed in eachone of the girls' stockings hanging from the mantle to dry. Due to the heat the gold coins melted and formed a gold ball.

To this day an orange or tangerine in the toe of a stocking symbolizes the gold ball and wealth.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century for a child to find an orange in their stocking was like finding gold. The fruit was a precious treat and it also symbolized their parents had enough prosperity to purchase the "gold" for their stocking.

I haven't used this in any of my stories but one day it might just end up in one.

I have a gift for readers. You can download my Christmas story, Christmas Redemption from any ebook outlet for free. Check out my website to more information. www.patyjager.net
Blurb:

Van Donovan returns to Pleasant Valley, Oregon where twelve years earlier as a boy of fifteen he left in handcuffs after standing guard for a bank robbery. He's learned a trade and excelled at it and is ready to prove to his father and the town he can amount to something.
Upon his return he learns the fate of the daughter of an innocent man who died in the robbery crossfire. To make amends he takes her out of the saloon and gives her a job, not realizing she'd been squatting in the very building he'd purchased for his business.
Can two battered hearts find solace or will the past continue to haunt their lives?


Wishing everyone a joyous Christmas filled with family, friends and good times!

Paty
www.patyjager.net
www.patyjager.blogspot..com

20 comments:

  1. Thanks for that interesting tidbit about oranges in the Christmas stocking. My parents always put an orange, nuts, candy, socks and a couple of small toys in our stockings growing up.

    Happy Holidays!

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  2. Hi Diana! We always had candy in our stockings and small gifts. Thanks for stopping!

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  3. Lovely information, Paty. I remember getting a little paper back of nuts and an orange and a few hard candies after our pageant on Christmas Eve at church.

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  4. What an interesting tidbit about the oranges representing gold. I love how the myths and stories start. Thanks for sharing, Paty.

    Merry Christmas back to you and yours!

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  5. I never knew this story, but I really like it. We always got an orange and nuts in the toe of our stocking. My little sister and I were usually more interested in the stocking contents than the actual gifts, and my kids were, too. Strange it hold such allure.
    And everyone does the orange thing without knowing how it came about.

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  6. I enjoyed learning the story behind the tradition, Paty. Merry Christmas!

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  7. Thank you for he story of the orange. I never knew this. I always had nuts in the toe of my stocking.

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  8. Tanya, we always received oranges after our school Christmas performances.

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  9. Hi Paisley, You're welcome. I enjoy researching how things started.

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  10. Celia, I agree, everyone gives the oranges without realizing the origin. It's just traditions they know. Our kids always enjoyed the stockings most too. And our grandkids are the same way. They all want to dive into the stockings first.

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  11. Hey Sarah! Thanks for stopping in! And Merry Christmas back at ya!

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  12. Marybelle, The info I found said nuts and oranges were the traditions because nuts were fresh this time of year as well.

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  13. Paty, I knew about Saint Nicholas and the dowry for the three sisters, but not that the gold melted and formed a ball, that is symbolized by an orange. My brother and I always received an apple, and orange, nuts, and ribbon candy in our stockings. I don't remember getting gifts in them. Now, each member of our family slips a surprise small gift into the stockings of the others. My youngest daughter started that tradition when she learned I was the one who filled the stockings. She said that wasn't fair, and that year she started surprising me. Soon she included her dad and sister. It's one of my favorite Christmas traditions at our house.

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  14. Paty,
    Thanks for the story behind the tradition of putting oranges in Christmas stockings. :-) We always had a huge orange, an apple, nuts in the shell and chocolate candy kisses in our Christmas stockings. I continued the tradition with my daughter, and took it further by adding a small gift that we called a stocking stuffer, a whimsical gift that didn't cost that much. :-) I always bought the biggest orange and apple I could find for her stocking.
    Happy Holidays!

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  15. Interesting! I always thought you put the orange in the toe of the sock to make it easiser to stuff the rest of the goodies in there. Speaking of which, we need to get three more Christmas stockings. And goodies. :)

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  16. Caroline, We do that, too. Everyone slips things in the stockings so there is a surprise for everyone not just the "Santa" that year.

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  17. Jeanmarie, it sounds like you made great traditions at your house.

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  18. Jacquie, That does make sense! LOL Good luck getting three more stockings. My mother-in-law crochets stockings for each new family member when we need them. One with their name for my house and one for the person to take home with them. That is our fun family Stocking tradition.

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  19. Great story about oranges and gold! Looking forward to seeing this in one of your stories. :)

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  20. Hey Genene, We'll see what happens!

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