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Where Did The Tradition of Leaving Cookies Out for Santa Originate?

It's a memory that many of us are fond of: setting up a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa Claus right before settling into bed on Christmas Eve. But, where did this tradition come from?


This tradition's origins go all the way back to ancient Norse mythology. Odin, the most important Norse god, rode an eight-legged horse called Sleipnir. According to the legend, children would leave out food for Sleipnir during the Yule season, in hopes that Odin would leave gifts in return. This tradition remains in some European countries, where it is believed that horses carry Santa's sleigh. Children leave out carrots and hay for the horses each Christmas Eve.



In the United States, it wasn't until the 1930s when the tradition of leaving out cookies and milk for Santa Claus became commonplace. During the Great Depression, parents wanted to teach their children to be appreciative and thankful, and prompted them to leave milk and cookies out for Santa to show their gratitude for their Christmas gifts.


The tradition is still alive and well today, with some kids even leaving carrots out for Santa's pack of reindeer.

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