It’s a great time of year for themed content. Whether you’re hoping for some Christmas cheer or a great winter aesthetic, the options are endless. There are movies, books, videos, songs, and more. With all of these great options, it can be overwhelming to choose. Like my posts for Halloween, I wanted to highlight some poems that perfectly fit into this time of year. Some you might have never heard before, and others might surprise you. Here are a few great holiday poems to get you into the world of festive poetry.
- “A Visit from St. Nicholas”– Clement Clarke Moore
If you are like me, then the title of this poem was not familiar. Once you read the poem itself, however, it becomes one of the most famous stories told at Christmastime. In fact, many people can probably recite some of this poem from memory. Many know “A Visit from St. Nicholas” as it’s more recent name “The Night Before Christmas”. It was first published back in 1823 anonymously in a New York paper. Many argue that this is the origin of the American image of Santa Claus. It’s also a lovely story to tell your family while curled up in front of a fire. If you want a safe way to get your family or friends into the festive spirit, try hosting a cozy get together over zoom and have a reading of this poem! With hot chocolate of course.
- “The Feast of Lights”– Emma Lazarus
This poem by Emma Lazarus tells the story of the Feast of Lights, also known as Hanukkah or Chanukah. Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that spans over eight days and celebrates the restoration of the Temple. This was thanks to the Maccabees, who Lazarus mentions in this poem. She tells the story of their fight against the Syrians to regain control of their Temple and bring the light back to the Jewish world. She also mentions the menorah, which has become one of the famous symbols of Hanukkah. As someone who is not Jewish but is interested in learning more about the history behind Hanukkah, this was a beautiful source of information. You can feel the pride and excitement in this poem that the Jewish people must have felt when they reclaimed their Temple. If this poem has you curious about the Feast of Lights and the history behind it, there’s some great information about the holiday here.
- “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”– Robert Frost
This poem is not what you would consider festive. Instead, it perfectly captures the feeling of winter. Amidst all of the celebrations, it is still a very dark and cold season. If you find yourself growing tired of the festive season and wishing for some quiet, this poem is perfect for you. It’s atmospheric nature allows you to just stop and be in a moment. This poem holds a special place in my heart because it reminds me of the quiet feeling of watching snow fall in the woods. It reminds you of the beauty of nature, despite its dangerous chill. When you read it, you can almost hear the snow fall and the chill of the air. Also because it is one of my sister’s favorite poems that she loves reciting from memory on cold evenings. It’s by a man whose last name is Frost, which never ceases to entertain my pun-loving brain. This is a poem to read in the midst of a silent, snowy night.
- “[little tree]”– E.E. Cummings
When I first read the title of this poem, it made me think of the tiny Charlie Brown tree. In fact, the first few lines of the poem made me wonder if it was truly a baby tree that would flop over from one ornament. It also reminds me of decorating Christmas trees as a child. Pulling out the bright and sparkling decoration and carefully hanging them on each branch. Of course, that was before I was tall enough. Most of my decorating duties were limited to the gingerbread and popsicle ornaments. The voice of this poem sounds like a child like myself talking to the tree as if it was a person. I love how it sounds like a child comforting something through an event that clearly must be scary. My favorite section is when the speaker says “then when you’re quite dressed/ you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see/ and how they’ll stare! /oh but you’ll be very proud”. I can imagine the scene unfolding through a child’s eyes, which is a great way to view the holiday season. So many things are more exciting and beautiful when we channel our inner child, after all.
- “For Christmas Day: Hark the Herald Angels Sing”– Charles Wesley
When I stumbled across this poem in my research, I was surprised to see it. I know this poem well, but not written this way. This is a popular hymn to sing in the Christian church during Christmastime. In fact, it is one of my favorite religious Christmas songs. It celebrates the birth of Jesus and talks about what that means for the community celebrating. The poem’s title and repeating lines also reference the angels who sang in celebration when telling the shepherds of Jesus’ birth. It was written in the 18th century by Charles Wesley, who was a Methodist preacher and brother of John Wesley, of the founders of the Methodist denomination in the U.K. He published this work in a collection of hymns and poems in the late 1730s. If you are someone looking for a Christian poem to read for this season, I recommend this one. You can read it and sing it!
Have you read any of these poems before? Do you have a favorite festive poem that wasn’t on this list? Let me know in the comments below! I hope that all of you have a safe and happy holiday season. I’ll be back next week to celebrate the last Tuesday of 2020! Aren’t we all glad that is a sentence we can say. I’ll be recapping my book and writing goals for the year, and take a look at the year to come. Until then, happy reading and happy holidays!