MORRISONS supermarkets in Bridgwater and Taunton are hoping to revive the almost forgotten tradition of putting an orange into a Christmas stocking by giving hundreds of them to parents across the towns on Saturday.

Shop staff will also encouraged mums and dads to tell family members the true reason behind it ahead of Christmas Eve.

According to new YouGov, 79 per cent of Brits with children no longer place an orange in Christmas stockings – making it now an increasingly neglected Christmas tradition that is in danger of disappearing altogether. 

Hundreds of oranges wrapped in Christmas tissue paper will be given toparents 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. 

Bridgwater Mercury:

Paul O’Brien, Bridgwater store manager, 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 parents pass on the stories behind them.”

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.

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. 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.”

Bridgwater Mercury:

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)