There’s a sound of a festive morrow,
It rings with delight o’er the snow,
Dispelling the shadows of sorrow
With promise that makes the heart glow…
An angel peeps in at the window,
And smiles as he looketh around,
And kisses the mistletoe berries
That wave o’er the love-hallow’d ground.
~Rowland Brown, “Christmas Eve,” Songs of Early Spring, with Lays of Later Life, 1872
The old man became silent; the children were silent too, and the room was so still they could hear the ticking of the clock in the corner. It was one of those moments of solemn stillness, when it is said an angel flies through the room. They felt the good angel hovering near. With lips slightly parted in a smile and a beaming star over her brow, she blessed them and said,— “Be calm; be hopeful. More beautiful than ever before shall be this Christmas Eve.” ~C. C. Shackford, “Christmas Eve in Germany,” c.1870
Christmas Eve — the tree blazed with lights. ~Amy Campbell, “Christmas Eve,” 1872
The festivity of this holy time is greatly enhanced by our knowing, that while we are rejoicing at the splendor of the lights, at the jubilee of the children, and their sparkling eyes, millions of people in every part of the great earth have the same feeling, and that the same thrill of joy pervades the whole world during these evening hours. In how many places have I passed this holy season! In the farthest south, there is the same rejoicing, as in the north; light and life triumph over darkness and death, and so everywhere, the holy Christmas Eve gladdens the eyes and hearts of men with the splendor of lights, and tries to chase away the gloom of the night. ~C. C. Shackford, “Christmas Eve in Germany,” c.1870
It was still quite light, and the streets were thronged with old and young, engaged either in buying little Christmas gifts at this last moment, or in looking into the brilliantly lighted windows and enjoying the fun and happiness that Christmas Eve always seems to bring. ~Archibald Campbell Knowles, “Old Grumps,” c.1893
When the boys were in the parlor, so fragrant, so bright, and saw the beautiful Nativity arranged there, unbounded delight flooded their hearts. Who is he that has seen a Nativity and has not felt it? Who has not found himself there in that fantastic world of cork and gummed paper, with its shadowy caves, the sweet and simple achronisms, the animals reposing with all ease and swollen to dimensions unknown to naturalists? The smuggler with his Spanish cloak and slouch hat, who with a load of tobacco hides behind a paper rock to give free passage to the three kings journeying in all their glory along the lofty summits of those cork Alps? Who does not feel an inexplicable pleasure at seeing that little donkey, laden with firewood, passing over a proud bridge of paper stone? Do you not take comfort in the heat of that ruddy bonfire which the shepherds are kindling to warm the Holy Child? Does it not make you happy to see the shepherds dance? The creatures of this enchanting scene, would you not think that they had gathered here from the four quarters of the earth? And, above all, do you not adore with tender reverence the Divine Mystery contained in that humble porch with its thatch of straw and, in its depths, a halo or glory of light? The aureole surrounding the manger seems to glow not as a transparency with candles placed behind it, but with a reflection of celestial light. I say it frankly,— on that holy and merry Christmas Eve, all these things seem to me to live and feel; these little figures of clay, shaped by clumsy hands, placed there with such faith and such devotion, seem to me to receive breath and being from the joy and enthusiasm that reign. The star which guides the Magi, tinsel and glass though it is, seems to me to shine and shoot forth rays. ~Fernán Caballero, Holy Night: A Story of Christmas Eve in Andalusia, translated from Spanish by Katharine Lee Bates [The “Good Night” in Spain. A little altered. Pseudonym of Cecilia Böhl von Faber (1796–1877).