When you were a kid remember digging past the candy and toys to the bottom of your Christmas stocking and pulling out a bright, shiny Florida orange? Finding an orange in the toe of your Christmas stocking is an old and cherished tradition. Before the advent of modern shipping, oranges were a rare and valued delicacy in the middle of winter, not something the average person could afford. It’s serendipity that Florida navel oranges come into season just in time to be loaded onto Santa’s sleigh!
The legend of the Christmas orange harkens back to the time of the original Saint Nick. According to the story, Saint Nicholas was a rich man who devoted his life to helping the poor. He learned of a poor man with three beautiful daughters who wished to marry but could not because they had no dowries. The man was too proud to accept charity; so on Christmas Eve Saint Nicholas tossed three bags of gold coins down the chimney of their home, one for each daughter. The gold landed in the girls’ stockings which had been washed and hung over the fireplace to dry. In the morning the delighted girls discovered the gold coins in the toes of their stockings and were able to marry their true loves.
To bring similar luck and prosperity to their children, parents began placing sweet, juicy oranges in their children’s Christmas stockings to represent the bright, shiny gold coins of Christmas legend!