The Sainsbury’s Christmas ad features a young boy being gifted clementines (Picture: Sainsbury’s)

The Sainsbury’s Christmas ad about Nick the chimney sweep has had viewers in tears since it launched earlier this week and one touching moment, involving clementines being placed in stockings at the end of the advert, has left people particularly choked.

The festive advert, called Nicholas the Sweep, has been made to mark Sainsbury’s 150 year anniversary.

Laura Boothby, head of broadcast marketing at Sainsbury’s, said of the advert: ‘It has been a special year for Sainsbury’s and we felt it was fitting for our Christmas advert to look back and celebrate the role we’ve played in making Christmas Christmas for the nation for the past 150 years.

But where did the tradition of putting oranges in stockings at Christmas come from and is it linked to Sainsbury’s?

Why do we put oranges in stockings at Christmas?

Although Nick the sweep is gifted a sack of clementines after being wrongly accused of stealing them in the Sainsbury’s Christmas advert, the popular supermarket chain is not historically involved in the origin of the tradition.

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Some believe the festive tradition of putting oranges or clementines in Christmas stockings started in America during the Great Depression in the 1930s when families struggled to afford gifts so left the small piece of fruit in their children’s stocking instead.

However, links the tradition all the way back to as early as 1823 when a story called A Visit From Saint Nicholas was written. In the story, it described St. Nick filling stockings by the fireplace before disappearing up the chimney.

A picture dating back to the 1880s shows Santa filling stockings hung by the fireplace (Picture: Classicstock/Getty Images)

St. Nicholas was thought to have been a real life man at one point in history, who inherited a large sum of money and, instead of keeping it for himself, used it to help others.

One such receiver of his good will was a poor man who couldn’t find suitors for his daughters because he was unable to offer a dowry. The legend goes that Nicholas dropped some of his gold coins down the chimney as a gift to help the family, the individual coins falling into stockings that were hanging to dry by the fire as he did so.

An American lithograph cartoon by W. A. Rogers from 1907 shows gold being put into a stocking. (Picture: Getty)

The tradition of putting oranges or clementines into stockings is alleged to have come from this story, with the round, orange fruit symbolising the gold coins that were said to have originally been left as a gift in the stockings by St. Nick.

MORE: Where was the Sainsbury’s 2019 Christmas advert Nicholas The Sweep filmed?

MORE: Where did the Christmas stocking tradition come from?


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