This informant is a friend of mine from back home who happened to be in town for a visit a few weeks. I started by asking him if he had any family traditions that may have been in the family for a while. After a bit of thinking he mentioned his Christmas stockings that his grandma had made for him and his brother, which I then realized I had seen before. He said dating back far in the past (he didn’t know the origin) the grandmothers on his mother’s side of the family have always sewed the Christmas stockings. Each stocking is sewed with items chosen by each respective grandmother for specific reason. Some items represent past events and some hopeful mementos for the future. He happened to be born in Germany when his parents lived there for a short three years early in their marriage, so there is a Beer stein on his stocking. There is also a tennis racket, basketball, and soccer ball signifying his (hopefully) future success in sports. Each stocking is about 18-20 inches tall and all red with a white top. He said the stocking has become somewhat of a family superstition and they believe it has influence on the child’s future when it’s sewed.
Analysis: After listening to my informant’s story it was clear to me the significance of Christmas and religion in their family’s life and history. It wasn’t clear whether or not the stockings were initially intended to be “fortune telling” (for lack of a better word) because my informant didn’t know how the tradition started, but it was interesting to me that such an important superstition ended up in the hands of a matriarch in such a patriarchal society.