Morrisons Gamston is aiming to revive the almost forgotten tradition of putting an orange into a Christmas stocking by giving hundreds of oranges to parents across Gamston and encouraging them to tell the story behind it ahead of Christmas Eve.
According to new YouGov research on behalf of Morrisons over three quarters (79 per cent) of Brits with children in the household no longer tend to observe the tradition of an orange in Christmas stockings – making it now an increasingly neglected Christmas tradition that is in danger of disappearing altogether.
On Saturday 16th December, hundreds of oranges wrapped in Christmas tissue paper will be given to Gamston’s parents along with a story-card telling the history of the tradition – so that parents can read it to their children ahead of the big day.
Crain Flewitt, Store Manager at Morrisons Gamston, 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 Gamston’s parents pass on the stories behind them to their children. And if Father Christmas wants to swing by and pick up an extra sack of oranges we’ll be happy to help.”
The tradition can be traced back to a story about Father Christmas who dropped three gold coins down a poor family’s chimney for them to find in the morning. They landed in the childrens’ socks which were hanging by the fire to dry. To remind us he now leaves a golden orange.
Nick Groom, folklore expert, author, and Professor at the University of Exeter has worked with Morrisons to re-tell the original story through story cards and a short film featuring puppets and says: “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. 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.”
The 1940s saw the tradition re-ignited when tropical fruits including oranges became extremely hard to come by and therefore became prized gifts at Christmas. Oranges and citrus fruits are at their best and most abundant over winter months, but 38 per cent of Brits now assume they are out of season and are best eaten in the summer (July to September) while a further quarter don’t know when they are in season.
Other festive traditions which have become less common include knocking on doors to sing Christmas carols with just two per cent still taking part and putting a sixpence in the Christmas pudding observed by six per cent, but 65 per cent still send out Christmas cards.
For the last two years the supermarket has helped to rekindle interest in great British Christmas traditions. In 2015 the supermarket gave away 50,000 sprigs of mistletoe to the nation’s festive romantics. Whilst in 2016 Morrisons brought back carols to its in-store playlist after 15 years, and handed out 100,000 Wonky Carrots for Rudolph.
The top Christmas traditions in danger of dying out:
1. Christmas caroling (observed by 2 per cent)
2. Putting a sixpence in your pudding (6 per cent)
3. Putting an orange in a Christmas stocking (13 per cent)
4. Kissing under the mistletoe (15 per cent)
5. Putting a carrot out for Rudolph (21 per cent)
6. Decorating a real Christmas tree (25 per cent)
7. Putting sherry and a mince pie out for Father Christmas (26 per cent)
8. Sending out Christmas cards (65 per cent)