The custom of hanging stockings by the fireplace came from St. Nicholas. When Nicholas was alive, he knew a poor man who had three daughters. Because he was so poor, the man did not have enough money for a dowry which meant his daughters could not get married. One night, Nicholas, who had inherited a large sum of money after losing his parents at a young age, dropped a bag filled with gold down the chimney for the man. The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry. He did the same thing a second time. Legend says that the father secretly hid by the fire every evening, determined to find out who was giving him the money. He discovered it was Nicholas, and when he thanked him, it’s said that Nicholas told him he only had God to thank for gold. Nicholas became known for giving generously and humbly to those in need throughout his life.
St. Nicholas providing dowry money is the story behind his patronage for young women seeking a marriage partner. Today, young women wishing to get married travel to the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari in Italy on the 6th of December to leave a note to St. Nicholas and put three coins in a box.