Thursday, December 6, 2007

The stockings are hung…..

Student stockings are hanging in the atrium of Ambrit-Rome International School waiting for a gift from La Befana. The gifts will appear in the stockings on January 6th.

La Befana is a character in Italian folklore, similar to Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus. The character may have originated in Rome and then spread as a tradition to other parts of Italy.

There are legends saying Christmas stockings originated with St. Nicholas, whose feast is celebrated today. St. Nicholas was a 3rd Century bishop with a reputation for helping the poor. One of the legends surrounding his life involves a poor man with three daughters. The man did not have the resources to provide dowries for his daughters so they were destined for slavery or prostitution. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home, providing the needed dowries. These bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. (This has led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from St. Nicholas.)

Note: Nicholas is the patron saint of pawn brokers. You can often see three gold balls in their shop windows and on their signs. These are a reference to St. Nicholas redeeming the girls with the three bags of gold.

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