These shoes are from the early 1950's. In Belgium, these shoes are called shoens. Shoens means shoe in Dutch, which most people speak in Belgium. On Christmas Eve, children place the shoes by the fireplace with carrots or hay in them. In Belgium, they believe that they have to feed St. Nick's horses. St. Nick puts presents inside the shoes for the kids to see in the morning. Traditions like this mean a lot to me because my great grandmother was born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium. My great grandparents met while while my great grandfather (who was in the military) was stationed in Belgium, they then moved moved to America in 1946. Flemish was spoken at home and Belgian foods were made every night. The traditions weren't practiced at home because my great grandmother wanted to be seen as only an American. My great grandmother died in March of 2001 due to cancer, while my great grandfather died a month later due to a broken heart.
Legend says: A giant lived in the castle by the river Scheidt in Antwerp. When a ship sailed by, the giant wanted to be paid. Those who refused to pay were drowned. The giant would stick out his hand, grab the ship by the mast and dunk it in the river. One day there was skipper by the name of Brabo. He refused to pay, and as the giant reached out to grab the mast, Brabo chopped off the giant's hand and threw it into the river. That's how Antwerp got its name. The Flemish name is Antwerpen which means "throwing away the hand."