Morrisons giving away oranges to revive Christmas stocking tradition

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An Ilkeston supermarket is aiming to revive the tradition of putting oranges in Christmas stockings by giving away hundreds of them to parents.

Staff at Morrisons, on Nottingham Road, are hoping to remind families of the history behind the idea, and it on to a new generation with the free giveaway on Saturday, December 16.

Store manager Andrew Dixon said:“Like kissing under the mistletoe and putting out carrots for Rudolph, oranges in stockings is part of the magic of Christmas.

“We want to help keep these traditions alive and help Ilkeston’s parents pass on the stories behind them to their children.”

According to a national survey commissioned by the supermarket, 79 per cent of Brits with children in the household no longer tend to observe the tradition of an orange in Christmas stockings.

The oranges, wrapped in Christmas tissue paper, will be accompanied by a story-card which parents can read to their children ahead of the big day.

The tradition can be traced back to a story told about the real-life Saint Nicholas, who lived in what is now Turkey in the fourth century.

According to the legend, he dropped three gold coins down a poor family’s chimney for them to find in the morning, and they landed in the childrens’ socks which were hanging by the fire to dry.

Folklore expert Nick Groom has worked with Morrisons to create the story cards.

He said: “Behind every seasonal tradition there is almost always a rich story from long, long ago.

“These are usually linked to the natural world, particularly when certain foods are in season - but we are in danger of losing this treasure trove of stories.”

He added: “Oranges in Christmas stockings provide a moment to remember and reflect on these stories: what they tell us about life in the past, the present, and the future, and how to keep these messages alive for the next generation.”

Morrisons effort to keep traditions alive is now becoming one itself.

In 2015, stores gave away 50,000 sprigs of mistletoe, while last year the brought back carols to in-store playlists, and handed out 100,000 carrots for Rudolph.