A SUPERMARKET chain will be giving out free oranges to families tomorrow. 

Morrisons hopes to revive the almost forgotten tradition of putting an orange in a Christmas stocking by giving hundreds of oranges to parents.

Staff will be handing out oranges at stores in Blackburn, Nelson, Bacup and Great Harwood. 

Simon Hulley, store manager at Morrisons Blackburn, 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 Blackburn’s parents pass on the stories behind them to their children. And if Father Christmas wants to swing by and pick up an extra sack of oranges we’ll be happy to help.”

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 children's socks which were hanging by the fire to dry and, to remind us, Santa now leaves a golden orange.

Nick Groom, folklore expert and author, 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.”

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.

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)