Leaving cookies and milk for Santa started to become popular in the U.S during the Great Depression. Parents wanted to teach their kids it was better to give and to be grateful for presents they received during times of economic hardship.

Don’t Forget Santa’s Cookies and Milk: The History of a Popular Christmas Tradition

Today in the United States, leaving out a plate of cookies (Oreos and classic chocolate chip are popular choices) and a glass of milk for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve is a well-established tradition among children. But it hasn’t always been that way. According to one theory, the cookies-and-milk custom is derived from an older tradition, when families would stuff stockings with goodies for Santa and hang them by the chimney, his preferred mode of entrance, as a welcoming gift. Now, however, those stockings are usually chock-full of treats and smaller gifts for the family members themselves.

Leaving cookies and milk for Santa—and perhaps a few carrots for his reindeer—took off as an American holiday tradition in the 1930s, during the Gre… Continue Reading (2 minute read)

11 thoughts on “Leaving cookies and milk for Santa started to become popular in the U.S during the Great Depression. Parents wanted to teach their kids it was better to give and to be grateful for presents they received during times of economic hardship.”

  1. Drawn-Otterix

    In my family it was coke and powdered donuts for Santa. Carrot sticks for the reindeer. Coincidentally, those are my Grandfather’s 3 favorite snacks.

    Edit: Thank you for the upvotes and award. My Grandpa’s lived in the time period where soda was the new water. Funny enough my other grandfather was a Pepsi guy and chocolate covered donut guy.

  2. bcnewell88

    Along somewhat similar lines, (I have heard it both associated with the depression, or just pre-modern shipping times) my family always puts oranges in stockings for Christmas. It’s less relevant now, but this used to be an expensive and rare gift during the winter in the North/Midwest.

  3. Curious-Kaleidoscope

    In the uk we leave him a mince pie & a whiskey (or brandy).

  4. JGCIII

    I taught my kids that Santa get’s milk and cookies from all of the kids, and he probably was sick of eating them. He would probably leave them a few extra toys if they left him buffalo wings and a beer! And so it was for several years, I’d have beer and wings on Christmas Eve!

  5. Brad_Wesley

    My kids leave bacon and beer.

  6. prettyfly4aporkpie

    I prefer the Yorkshire tradition of leaving a nice line of coke out for The Yule father, or a whole baggie if you’re mam n dad were rich.

  7. handcarvedmahogany

    Nah this is an old trick parents used to make cookies and not have to share with their kids

  8. BoofaloBill

    Santa isn’t coming to the United States this year due to travel restrictions

  9. riemann3sum

    i make my kids leave 70mL vials of piss every year so santa can test for drugs

  10. RockonWeinerdog

    Cookies and milk? At my house it was a 6 pack of Budweiser and a pack of Kool. I see now where it all went wrong.

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