Christmas traditions: The Orange

With the many stresses of the holiday season, particularly financial, I wanted something pure, something traditional and, well, me being me,  something sweet for my Christmas obsession. I came up with the orange. Yes, the orange.

What does an orange have to do with Christmas? It appears the orange has a long history as a stocking stuffer. Who knew? Not me. I never had one left for me in my stocking and since I am writing this post at the last-minute I could not ask my Dad if he ever received one. Actually I tried, but he did not answer the phone. It was late and he was probably sleeping. He can be selfish that way.

So after much research, a.k.a. googling, the best I could come up with was that three oranges placed in a Christmas stocking symbolized the bags of gold that the original St. Nick left for some poor maidens who were too poor to wed. I also came across the story that oranges were a rare treat back in the day and for many children, their only opportunity to taste an orange all year. I think they are in fruit cakes as well. But I won’t go down that road. But in these economic times, I choose to believe that oranges in the stocking symbolized a lovely, simple gesture. A treat from one person to another that did not bankrupt the giver.

There is nothing wrong with purchasing gifts for ones you love. But remember the orange when you find yourself trying to top the gift you gave last year. Keep the orange in mind when you are handing over your credit card yet again. Remember the orange for exactly what it is, a sweet gesture that symbolizes the season. I am not saying to give everyone you know oranges for Christmas. But wouldn’t it be a lovely holiday if an orange was enough?



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  1. My Great-Aunt Cecile entered the convent at 19, and I remember her telling me that they would get oranges for Christmas. (And yes, it was a rare treat at the time.) As a kid, my Mum would put on in our stockings, too. So fun!

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