Do you remember, in the old days,
How you gathered around the cheerful blaze
On Christmas eve, while the winds sang low
Across the limitless fields of snow?
It was winter without, but what cared you?
In your heart was summer, for well you knew
’Twould be Christmas to-morrow; and can you see,
Within the mirror of Memory,
When stockings were hung and prayers were said
And your mother had tucked you safe in bed,
How you sneaked downstairs at the dawn’s first light
To see what Santa had brought that night?
~J. A. Edgerton, “At Christmas Time,” in The Coming Age, December 1899
If you listened above the din of the talking you could hear the wind in the chimney turn into music. Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart… filled it, too, with melody that would last forever. Even though you grew up and found you could never quite bring back the magic feeling of this night, the melody would stay in your heart always — a song for all the years. ~Bess Streeter Aldrich (1881–1954), Song of Years, 1939
Were we any different? I think not, papa; for I recollect very well that I used to try to peep through the key-hole on Christmas Eve, and was greatly vexed that my good mother always hung a cloth before it. ~C. C. Shackford (1815–1891), “Christmas Eve in Germany,” c.1870
It is Christmas Eve, and the fairies come to good children and bring them gingerbread. ~C. C. Shackford, “Christmas Eve in Germany,” c.1870
There is something peculiar in this evening. We feel a gladness without exactly knowing why. However old one may be, he becomes really one of the children; and even if he knows that there is no one in the wide world to think of making him the smallest kind of a present, yet he believes and hopes there is one coming, whenever he hears a footstep on the stairs, or any person opens the door. ~C. C. Shackford, “Christmas Eve in Germany,” c.1870 [Mr Shackford passed away on Christmas Day of 1891.
Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve. Yuletide excitement is a potent caffeine, no matter your age. ~Terri Guillemets, 2005
Now the joyful sound is at the heart of Christmas. No time in the year, beside, is so full of this blessing. Christmas time is the crown, and Christmas Day the rare jewel in the crown of it all. In my dear old mother-land, where holidays come far more frequently than we can as yet permit them to come in this new world, Christmas always has a peerless place. In my childhood, as it drew near, “the earnest expectation of the creature” would grow to be almost intolerable. How well I remember, — the yule-cake in the oven and the great yule-log kindled from a bit of the old log — and on Christmas Eve, a slumber troubled with excess of joy, up to midnight; with the joyful clash of the church-bells following the last stroke of the clock, and ushering in the Christmas morning. Then a tumult of joy, breaking out everywhere into “Merry Christmas!” and transmuting one of the shortest days into by far the longest day of the year; while every cottage was decked with bright holly, green as the green of June. So the Christmas of our childhood abides in our life, an indestructible substance of joy. ~Robert Collyer, “The Joyful Sound,” c.1870 [a little altered
The yule-log is a huge log which is placed on the fire on Christmas eve. The father of the family sings solemnly Christmas carols with his wife and children, the smallest of whom he sends into the corner to pray that the yule-log may bear him some sugar-plums. Meanwhile, little parcels of them are placed under each end of the log, and the children come and pick them up, believing, in good faith, that the great log has borne them. ~François Fertiault (1814–1915)
…treating them to ginger-snaps, because it was Christmas Eve. ~Edward E. Hale, “They Saw A Great Light: A Christmas Story,” 1873