Reading Christmas stories and poems at bedtime is a cherished holiday tradition for families around the world. So as you tuck in the little ones on Christmas Eve, be sure to read them one of these timeless poems about Santa Claus, Christmas traditions and the holiday’s origins.


'A Visit From St. Nicholas' by Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all! ”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose, 

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; 

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, 

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle, 

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”


'The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus' by Ogden Nash

In Baltimore there lived a boy.

He wasn't anybody's joy.

Although his name was Jabez Dawes,

His character was full of flaws.


In school he never led his classes,

He hid old ladies' reading glasses,

His mouth was open when he chewed,

And elbows to the table glued.

He stole the milk of hungry kittens,

And walked through doors marked NO ADMITTANCE.

He said he acted thus because

There wasn't any Santa Claus.


Another trick that tickled Jabez

Was crying “Boo” at little babies.

He brushed his teeth, they said in town,

Sideways instead of up and down.

Yet people pardoned every sin,

And viewed his antics with a grin,

Till they were told by Jabez Dawes,

“There isn't any Santa Claus!”


Deploring how he did behave,

His parents swiftly sought their grave.

They hurried through the portals pearly,

And Jabez left the funeral early.


Like whooping cough, from child to child,

He sped to spread the rumor wild:

“Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes

There isn't any Santa Claus!”

Slunk like a weasel of a marten

Through nursery and kindergarten,

Whispering low to every tot,

“There isn't any, no there's not!”


The children wept all Christmas eve

And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.

No infant dared hang up his stocking

For fear of Jabez' ribald mocking.


He sprawled on his untidy bed,

Fresh malice dancing in his head,

When presently with scalp-a-tingling,

Jabez heard a distant jingling;

He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof

Crisply alighting on the roof.

What good to rise and bar the door?

A shower of soot was on the floor.


What was beheld by Jabez Dawes?

The fireplace full of Santa Claus!

Then Jabez fell upon his knees

With cries of “Don't,” and “Pretty please.”

He howled, “I don't know where you read it,

But anyhow, I never said it!”

“Jabez” replied the angry saint,

“It isn't I, it's you that ain't.

Although there is a Santa Claus,

There isn't any Jabez Dawes!”


Said Jabez then with impudent vim,

“Oh, yes there is, and I am him!

Your magic don't scare me, it doesn't”

And suddenly he found he wasn't!

From grimy feet to grimy locks,

Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box,

An ugly toy with springs unsprung,

Forever sticking out his tongue.


The neighbors heard his mournful squeal;

They searched for him, but not with zeal.

No trace was found of Jabez Dawes,

Which led to thunderous applause,

And people drank a loving cup

And went and hung their stockings up.


All you who sneer at Santa Claus,

Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,

The saucy boy who mocked the saint.

Donner and Blitzen licked off his paint. 


'Christmas Trees' by Robert Frost

The city had withdrawn into itself

And left at last the country to the country;

When between whirls of snow not come to lie

And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove

A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,

Yet did in country fashion in that there

He sat and waited till he drew us out

A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.

He proved to be the city come again

To look for something it had left behind

And could not do without and keep its Christmas.

He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;

My woods — the young fir balsams like a place

Where houses all are churches and have spires.

I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas trees.

I doubt if I was tempted for a moment

To sell them off their feet to go in cars

And leave the slope behind the house all bare,

Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.

I’d hate to have them know it if I was.

Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except

As others hold theirs or refuse for them,

Beyond the time of profitable growth,

The trial by market everything must come to.

I dallied so much with the thought of selling.

Then whether from mistaken courtesy

And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether

From hope of hearing good of what was mine,

I said, “There aren’t enough to be worthwhile.”

“I could soon tell how many they would cut,

You let me look them over.”


“You could look.

But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”

Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close

That lop each other of boughs, but not a few

Quite solitary and having equal boughs

All round and round.

The latter he nodded “Yes” to,

Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,

With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”

I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.

We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,

And came down on the north.

He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees! — at what apiece? ”


He felt some need of softening that to me:

“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”


Then I was certain I had never meant

To let him have them.

Never show surprise! 

But thirty dollars seemed so small beside

The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents

(For that was all they figured out apiece),

Three cents so small beside the dollar friends

I should be writing to within the hour

Would pay in cities for good trees like those,

Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday schools

Could hang enough on to pick off enough.

A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had! 

Worth three cents more to give away than sell,

As may be shown by a simple calculation.

Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.

I can’t help wishing I could send you one,

In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas. 


'The Three Kings' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Three Kings came riding from far away,

Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;

Three Wise Men out of the East were they,

And they travelled by night and they slept by day,

For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.


The star was so beautiful, large, and clear,

That all the other stars of the sky

Became a white mist in the atmosphere,

And by this they knew that the coming was near

Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.


Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows,

Three caskets of gold with golden keys;

Their robes were of crimson silk with rows

Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,

Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.


And so the Three Kings rode into the West,

Through the dusk of night, over hill and dell,

And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast

And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest,

With the people they met at some wayside well.


"Of the child that is born," said Baltasar,

"Good people, I pray you, tell us the news;

For we in the East have seen his star,

And have ridden fast, and have ridden far,

To find and worship the King of the Jews."


And the people answered, "You ask in vain;

We know of no king but Herod the Great!"

They thought the Wise Men were men insane,

As they spurred their horses across the plain,

Like riders in haste, and who cannot wait.


And when they came to Jerusalem,

Herod the Great, who had heard this thing,

Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them;

And said, "Go down unto Bethlehem,

And bring me tidings of this new king."


So they rode away; and the star stood still,

The only one in the gray of morn

Yes, it stopped, it stood still of its own free will,

Right over Bethlehem on the hill,

The city of David where Christ was born.


And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard,

Through the silent street, till their horses turned

And neighed as they entered the great inn-yard;

But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred,

And only a light in the stable burned.


And cradled there in the scented hay,

In the air made sweet by the breath of kine,

The little child in the manger lay,

The child, that would be king one day

Of a kingdom not human but divine.


His mother Mary of Nazareth

Sat watching beside his place of rest,

Watching the even flow of his breath,

For the joy of life and the terror of death

Were mingled together in her breast.


They laid their offerings at his feet:

The gold was their tribute to a King,

The frankincense, with its odor sweet,

Was for the Priest, the Paraclete,

The myrrh for the body's burying.


And the mother wondered and bowed her head,

And sat as still as a statue of stone;

Her heart was troubled yet comforted,

Remembering what the Angel had said

Of an endless reign and of David's throne.


Then the Kings rode out of the city gate,

With a clatter of hoofs in proud array;

But they went not back to Herod the Great,

For they knew his malice and feared his hate,

And returned to their homes by another way. 


'Christmas Bells' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


Till, ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime

A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


Then from each black accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn

The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


And in despair I bowed my head;

"There is no peace on earth," I said;

"For hate is strong,

And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"


Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men!"