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Orange Gold in Your Stockings

Tina Lerno, Librarian, Digital Content Team,
Snowman carrying giant oranges

Have you ever received an orange in your holiday stocking; did you ever wonder why?

Out here in Los Angeles, if you are dreaming of a snowy holiday season, you might have a very long wait.

While some cities are already piled high with snow and rain, we are still watching the heat and smog index! So while we may not have snow and cold, we do have some warm and sunny homegrown traditions.

There are a few explanations out there as to the history of the orange in the stocking, including a tale about St. Nicholas and a sack of gold coins finding their way into the stockings hanging by the fireplace at Christmas. The orange eventually stood in for the literal gold. The most popular reason dates back to the Great Depression of the 1930s when money was very tight and many families simply didn't have the means to buy gifts. It was an extravagance to find an orange in your stocking on Christmas, as fresh oranges were hard to come by in colder climes. Finding one of these golden treats in your stocking was a way of celebrating the holiday, and avoiding scurvy.

Check out the library's beautiful collection of fruit crate artwork some displaying winter and holiday themed art that elevates the simple California orange.

Santa Claus carrying a sack
Santa Claus, Limoneira Company, 1928
Poinsettia Flower
Pointsettia, Fillmore Citrus Association
Queen Esther painting in a frame
Queen Esther, Yorba Orange Growers Association
Polar Bear hugging a rainbow
Stalward, Santa Paula Orange Association, 1936
toy soldiers marching in line
Parade, Culbertson Lemon Association
painted image of King David
King David, Yorba Orange Growers Association
Mission with palm trees and a big star
Evening Star, San Fernando Heights Lemon Association
Pine Cone with orange grove pictures inside
Pine Cone, Gold Buckle Association