Don't forget my little shoes!

The truth is in front of the fire place

For children, Christmas isn’t Christmas unless they hang their stockings over the fireplace. In many European countries, they leave out their shoes instead. But where does this strange tradition come from?

The story of the shoes has nothing to do with Christmas Eve, but stems from an event that took place on December 5, the eve of Saint Nicholas’ Day. That evening, an impoverished lumberjack was forced to abandon his three little girls so they wouldn’t starve. The poor man did not know that his desperate pleas had been heard by Saint Nicholas, who happened to be on his roof distributing sweet treats

N'oublie pas mes petits souliers noel

The story does not say if Saint Nicholas was accompanied by his rather sinister helper Père Fouettard or ‘Mr Bogeyman’, whose job is to whip disobedient children into shape! We do know that the holy man himself was so moved by the father’s plight (no doubt a widower) that instead of offering sweet treats he gave him bags of gold, which he dropped down the chimney. The first bag fell into a woolen stocking left to dry near the hearth. The second rolled into a clog. And to this day, we still don’t know what happened to the third bag! It seems that only children who leave their shoes or stockings by the fireplace might someday discover the truth...

Tradition aside, I don't know about you, but there’s only one thing I like to find under my Christmas tree... a new pair of shoes!

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