Oranges in Christmas Stockings


“Growing up, my mother used to put oranges in my stockings and now it’s something I do with my kids as well,” says CR.

When asked the reason for oranges in the stocking, CR responded:

“Honestly, I had no idea why growing up. I thought it was maybe just to make the stocking look fuller. I looked it up a few years ago and remember that oranges were a big deal during the Great Depression since they were rare. I think it’s also supposed to represent good fortune and bags of gold. I liked doing it just because it’s what I remembered my mother doing for me and thought it was nice to get something other than just a ton of candy.”


CR is a sixty year old acting teacher. Originally from Virginia, she moved to LA when she was eighteen and has lived in various areas of the San Fernando Valley. This is the response she gave when asked if she has any favorite holiday traditions.


CR’s decision to continue the tradition of putting oranges in stockings for Christmas with her own children highlights the enduring power of familial customs and the desire to connect with one’s heritage. By passing down the practice of placing oranges in stockings, CR not only honors her own upbringing but also imparts a sense of cultural continuity and shared experience with her children. Her rationalization that the oranges were meant to make the stocking look fuller demonstrates how folk practices, even once divorced from their original meaning, can continue to be passed down, since people will assume there is some rationale behind the practice and come to their own conclusions. Her curiosity at one point prompts her to investigate if there is a reason beyond the one she has come up with, but seems to have little bearing on her fondness for the practice; as she says, she does it because her mother did it for her.