The Origin of The Christmas Fruit Bag Tradition

Apples, oranges and walnuts on table
Via Pxfuel
Leslie Taylor-Grover
December 6, 2020

For as long as just about anyone can remember, Christmas treat bags have been a staple in countless Black households. But how did they come about?

Those bags first made an appearance during the Great Depression, when Black families were suffering from poverty. But there’s more to the story.

Second is the rise of the Black church. Time after time, Black congregations came together to support and help one another whenever we experienced white terrorism and discriminiation. During Christmas, treat bags were given to all families after church services.


Third, the bags actually are part of the St. Nicolas fable! According to the story, St. Nicolas was a wealthy man who served others. When he found that a man was too poor to give his daughters an appropriate marriage dowry, he dropped gold coins through the window. The oranges and candy represent this kind act.

Fourth, the bags helped ensure healthy food access. Fresh fruit was not always available on demand year-round. The Christmas bags ensured delicacies and seasonal fruits were shared by everyone in the community.

The treat bag tradition reinforces some of the values critical to building a stronger Black community: mutual support, spirituality, and kindness. Like these Christmas staples, our efforts to build our communities must also remain a fixture of our culture, too.