Until recently, Christmas in Italy was exclusively a family feast, and children only received gifts on Epiphany (January 6). After leaving out a bottle of wine and some slices of salami to appease La Befana the night before, in the morning they would discover sweets and gifts left in their stockings and shoes. The presents were traditionally a piece of fruit or candy, but naughty children might also receive a lump of coal.
This tradition has morphed into leaving gifts not only in stockings or shoes, but giving gifts of edible chocolate shoes filled with treats. Obviously, with chocolatiers making very high quality pieces of art in the form of shoes, this tradition is not just for little ones any longer...