Today, unlike my articles of recent weeks, I’m not offering you a strange tradition or a history lesson with this new text on “Christmas fruit”. No, today I have for you a lovely legend and a life lesson that we tend to forget, especially at Christmas time. Something to warm your heart and offer you a beautiful thought to share in turn.
And I plan to do that by telling you about… the orange in the Christmas stocking!
The Supposed Origin of the Orange in the Christmas Stocking
Once upon a time, there was a poor widower who spread happiness all around him. Despite the fate that had deprived him of his wife, he raised his three daughters in love and shared this benevolence with the people of his village. Always willing to help his fellow man, the man was well known, as much for his misfortune as for his generosity.
Although he had very little, he refused any charity from his neighbors, assuring them that he and his daughters had everything they needed to be happy. Others were far more needy than he, so it didn’t matter that they didn’t live in a castle, as long as they had three meals a day and love, they were rich.
As his daughters grew into women, their father lamented the fact that he had no dowry to marry them off with. He couldn’t offer them the happiness of starting their own home with his meager means, and despaired of being able to secure their future.
On Christmas Eve, when the whole household was asleep, St. Nicholas, who had heard of the widower’s kindness, entered their home and, seeing the freshly washed socks drying by the fireplace, placed a golden ball in three of them, before disappearing into the night.
On Christmas morning, the father and three daughters discovered the gift laid out for them. And so it was that the father was able to marry off his three daughters, who in turn spread happiness and love to those around them.
The Supposed Origin of the Orange in the Christmas Stocking (Bis)
If this is the story of how we came to hang socks on the mantelpiece, how did the golden ball become an orange (or vice versa)?
It’s worth remembering that, coming from warm countries, oranges were a rare and expensive commodity before globalization. A few oranges could be worth a whole day’s wages!
Since citrus season falls right in the middle of the holiday season, it became a tradition to give an orange to children at Christmas. It was a rare and delicious gift, just like candy or sweets. Just imagine: fresh fruit in winter a few decades ago was a real ray of sunshine (and vitamin C).
Yes, back then, a simple orange was a wonderful gift for a child (and for adults too).
The Moral of This Story
Over the past few years, I’ve been gradually taming the holiday season: I cook a lot, I take part in enjoyable events, I see the people I want to see and, above all, I’ve come to discover the true meaning I want to give to Christmas.
As in the fairy tale, Christmas is all about being happy with the people you love and who make you feel good.
As in the tradition of the orange, Christmas is about pleasing one another, whether it’s a huge present or an orange.
In the end, even though I still receive a mountain of presents from my mom at the age of 30, I know they’re a bit like oranges. Full of love, given because I’m important to her and, above all, because I’m the best, kindest and most wonderful daughter she’s ever had (yes, yes, I’m an only child, but that’s okay!).
Let me reassure you: she’s spoiled too, and I often tell her that she’s the best mother I’ve ever had!
I grew up thinking that there was a time when it was sad to receive only an orange, and yet! Maybe instead of telling your children and grandchildren: “You’re lucky, there was a time when children got oranges for Christmas!”, you should tell them about the origin of the wonderful gift of the orange in the stocking.
The Magic of the Holidays
So, this December 21, stop putting pressure on yourself, share the magic of the holidays, give, receive, and do it out of love, not obligation. Remember, there was a time when the best parents could give were oranges. And it wasn’t because they were poor, far from it! It was simply, truly, a wonderful gift.
Have a Merry Christmas!