Nothing signifies the holidays more than the hanging of the stocking on the fireplace mantle. As with many of our traditions, the exact origin is unknown. However, stockings were mentioned in the 1823 poem, "A visit from St. Nicholas," written by Clement C. Moore.
There was a St. Nicholas, a bishop who lived during the third and fourth century in what is now Turkey. The legend tells us that a widower nobleman with three daughters squandered all his wealth away leaving nothing for his daughters' dowries. One night while sleeping, St. Nicholas left three bags of gold, one in each of the girls' stockings that had been hung by the hearth to dry. In the morning, the girls were overjoyed to find the gold coins, giving them enough to be married. And as with all stories, they lived happily ever after.
Others say that the Dutch introduced the custom of hanging a stocking. During the 16th century, children in Holland would leave their clogs by the hearth filled with straw for Santa's reindeer. In exchange Santa, or "Sinterclass," would leave treats for the children. The clogs would later become stockings.