Christmas Stockings

Pattern for teddy in stocking
© F H Powell 2013

For pattern above click here

The tradition of hanging a Christmas stocking on Christmas Eve goes back centuries. However over the years as families have become more affluent the stocking has become more decorative rather than functional. That which at one time held all the presents for a child has now become the home of stocking fillers.

In the Victorian era the more affluent could provide fruit, nuts or chocolate as gifts something that, for even this class in society, was still a rare treat. Poorer families made their presents – clothes-peg dolls, skipping ropes and home carved wooden toys such as soldiers or hand made teddy bears were typical. Presents for parents were again often home made with mother making father gloves, socks or a hat. Mother would receive pincushions and scissors or possibly an apron made by one of her daughters.

During the first half of he 20th century industrialisation had made mass production of goods possible leading to cheaper prices. Home made wooden toys were increasingly replaced with purchased tin plate toys. German manufactures were exporting up to 90% of their tin plate production to France and the UK. For girls the clothes-peg doll was being replaced by dolls with realistic polymer heads and bodies. For those that could afford, the presents of the 1920’s were Kodak cameras (as the advertising campaign said; Keep Christmas with a Kodak) or a radio. But this move from largely home made to purchased presents signalled the demise of the Christmas stocking as the centre of present giving and receiving. The move to purchased presents did however take a knock back during the Second World War when resources were diverted to the war effort from luxuries and toys. This had the effect for a time of returning parents to making toys and presents as shop bought gifts were scarce and of poor quality.

Pattern for dolls stocking and hat
© F H Powell 2015

For pattern above click here

Post WWII increasing disposable income meant that the stocking fillers remained in addition to a main present or presents. In addition to a train set, annual or clothes the stocking would contain sweets, a chocolate smokers outfit, a section box of chocolates and chocolate coins. For boys small mechanics sets of a screwdriver, hammer and wrench or for the girls a sewing set.

Today the hanging of the Christmas stocking continues, in fact you can buy pre-filled stockings which can take all the preparation out of it. But part of the fun is picking up a pack of playing cards, a pocket torch, a key ring, a pencil case, bath salts and a bottle opener that plays Jingle Bells. Isn’t it?

1:12th scale knitted Christmas stockings
© F H Powell 2014

For pattern above click here