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Quotations about Christmas,
Christmas Eve, & Santa Claus


Love is the Christmas-tide message... ~Margaret Sidney, "Christmas," 1884

Oh, the Christmas tree's my favorite
Of all the trees that grow.
~Laura F. Armitage, "My Favorite Tree," 1906

One touch of Christmas makes the whole world kin. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1904, George Horace Lorimer, editor

If I could have my wish to‑night it would not be for wealth or fame,
It would not be for some delight that men who live in luxury claim,
But it would be that I might rise at three or four a.m. to see,
With eager, happy, boyish eyes, my presents on the Christmas tree.
Throughout this world there is no joy, I know now I am growing gray,
So rich as being just a boy, a little boy on Christmas Day.
~Edgar A. Guest, "A Boy at Christmas," 1913

Why is Christmas Eve such a happy day? I say a little hymn about happy, happy Christmas. ~Amy Campbell, "Christmas Eve," 1872

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days, that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! ~Charles Dickens, Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, 1837

I look in mother's closet,
      And what do I see
      But a huge pile of presents!
      Maybe one is for me.
If I just take a peek
      At those bundles in there,
      I wonder whether mother
      Really would care...
~“Christmas Presents,” in The Herald, December 1943

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

Christmas is the protest of the human race against gloom. ~Frank Crane, "Christmas Means the Indestructibility of Joy," Christmas and the Year Round, 1917

Whose heart doth hold the Christmas glow
Hath little need of Mistletoe;
Who bears a smiling grace of mien
Need waste no time on wreaths of green;
Whose lips have words of comfort spread
Needs not the holly-berries red—
His very presence scatters wide
The spirit of the Christmastide.
~John Kendrick Bangs (1862–1922), "The Christmas Spirit," The Cheery Way: A Bit of Verse For Every Day, 1920

Mistletoe and gleaming holly,
Symbols of a blessed day...
~Louisa May Alcott, "Merry Christmas," in The Horn of Plenty, 1876

I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays — let them overtake me unexpectedly — waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: "Why, this is Christmas Day!" ~David Grayson, "A Day of Pleasant Bread," Adventures in Friendship, 1908  [pseudonym of Ray Stannard Baker –tg]

'T is Christmas eve. Good-night! Good-night!
Old Santa roams the earth to-night...
~James Henry Potts, "Old Santa," Every Life a Delight, 1914

'T is Christmas morn! Awake! Awake!
The slumber from thine eyelids shake!...
No such delight through all the year
As comes with Santa's Christmas cheer.
~James Henry Potts, "Old Santa," Every Life a Delight, 1914

Christmas Eve has come at last,
That day of all most glad—
The angels sing with joy and praise,
Christmas Eve has come at last—
That day of all most blest.
~Amy Campbell, "Christmas Hymn," c. 1872  [a little altered –tg]

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867–1957)

What Eve is like the Christmas Eve?...
      In any land,
      A day so grand—
So pure as Christmas Day.
~Louis Charles, "Christmas Eve, Ten Years Ago," 1878

I have always thought of Christmas time... as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. ~Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843

A candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise or stir at all,
But softly gives itself away,
While, quite unselfish, it grows small...
~Anonymous, "Christmas Candle," c. 1945

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. ~Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843

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

There is one more good thing about Winter — he brings Christmas. Through the bleak December the thought of the coming festival is pleasant — like the reflection of a fire on our faces.... Christmas-day is the pleasantest day in the whole year. On that day we think tenderly of distant friends; we strive to forgive injuries — to close accounts with ourselves and the world — to begin the new year with a white leaf, and a trust that the chapter of life about to be written will contain more notable entries, a fairer sprinkling of good actions, fewer erasures made in blushes, and fewer ugly blots than some of the earlier ones. And to make Christmas perfect, the ground should be covered and the trees draped with snow; the bleak world outside should make us enjoy all the more keenly the comforts we possess; and above all, it should make us remember the poor and the needy; for a charitable deed is the best close of any chapter of our lives, and the best promise, too, for the record about to be begun. ~Alexander Smith, "Winter," 1863

Soon will old Santa Claus arrive,
On Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve...
Long live the Christmas fairy who
Has taught the good we ought to do,
And ever, ever keep in view,
On Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve,
Not only self, but others too,
On Christmas Eve, tra la!
~M. D. Sterling, "Christmas Stockings," c. 1894

Christmas Eve and tomorrow I'll get my gifts, everything that heart could wish. ~Margaret Dean Stevens, "The Madonna of the Purple Dots," 1907  [pseudonym of Bess Streeter Aldrich –tg]

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love! ~Hamilton Wright Mabie, "Christmas Eve," 1885

Christmas Eve came at last. The day was bright and beautiful, the ground crisp and hard, and the hoary trees shining like diamonds! What a happy day it brought to many, to most! Even in the poorest village a little green fir branch testified that it was Christmas Eve. ~Amy Campbell, "Christmas Eve," 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

A Christmas family-party! We know nothing in nature more delightful! ~Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Dinner"

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

Are they Christmas fairies stealing
Rows of little socks to fill?
Are they angels floating hither
With their message of good-will?
What sweet spell are these elves weaving,
As like larks they chirp and sing?
~Louisa May Alcott, "Merry Christmas," in The Horn of Plenty, 1876

Santa Claus is jolly, sir;
      Santa Claus is kind, sir;
      Santa Claus on Christmas eve
      Comes riding on the wind, sir.
Have you not seen our Santa Claus,
      With hair so snowy white, sir?
      Just hang your stocking Christmas eve,—
      He'll come that very night, sir.
And if you watch, perhaps you'll see
      This friend in furs hid deep, sir.
      But I have never seen him once—
      I'm always fast asleep, sir.
~M. Nora Boylan, "Old Santa Claus," c. 1894  [to be sung to the tune of "Yankee Doodle" –tg]

What a blessing Christmas is!... it is the one season of the year when we can lay aside all gnawing worry, indulge in sentiment without censure, assume the carefree faith of childhood, and just plain "have fun." Whether they call it Yuletide, Noel, Weihnachten, or Christmas, people around the earth thirst for its refreshment as the desert traveller for the oasis. ~D. D. Monroe, "The Unfinished Sympathy," guest editorial in The Rotarian, December 1949

Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts. ~J. L. W. Brooks, 2007

And, so, Christmas comes to bless us!
Comes to teach us how to find
The joy of giving happiness
And the joy of being kind.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "There Will Always Be a Christmas," 1940s

Dwelling-houses and shops were ornamented with branches of laurel and wreaths of holly. There are in abundance meats and vegetables and fruits of all kinds, pastry and confectionery, colored and shaped in so many ways that it would be impossible to describe them. I see passing before me on the panorama all the kind souls that on Christmas Eve are busying themselves to find out the many whose limited means will not allow them to distinguish the morrow from other days. ~I. B. Torricelli, "Christmas in Italy," c. 1870   [a little altered –tg]

There seems a magic in the very name of Christmas. ~Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Dinner"

The bells ring out, and how they dance
Below, around the Christmas Tree!
~Hiram Ladd Spencer, "To My Daughter: A Christmas Reverie," 1878

Christmas Eve ought to be a very joyful evening to us in all its associations, in all the truths which it naturally brings to the soul.... A man's soul is to be as the heavens were on the night when the shepherds looked up and saw them full of angels as well as stars. ~Henry Ward Beecher (1813–1887)

Once again, my dear people,
      Merry Christmas is here,
      With holly and mistletoe
      And its good will and cheer!
With its joys and its heartaches,
      With its laughter and song,
      It comes as a reminder
      That time marches along.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "When Christmas Comes," 1940s

Christmas Eve — the tree blazed with lights. ~Amy Campbell, "Christmas Eve," 1872

Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys, showing that nothing else in life need to be taken seriously, and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one of the few occasions on which men become entirely alive. ~Robert Lynd, 1924

This December,
That love weighs more than gold!...
~Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon (1876–1961), "The Right Gift," 1912

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

May you have the gladness of Christmas,
      Which is Hope;
The spirit of Christmas,
      Which is Peace;
The heart of Christmas,
      Which is Love.
~Ada V. Hendricks Larsen (1888–1975)

In prickly green of Christmas wreaths
      The holly berries glow,
The Christmas trees will sparkle soon,
      With Christmas fruit bent low...
~Hannah G. Fernald, "Outside," 1906

Lucy:  Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! At this time of year I think we should put aside all our differences, and try to be kind.
Charlie Brown:  Why does it have to be for just this time of year? Why can't it be all year 'round?
Lucy:  What are you, some kind of fanatic or something?
~Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts, 1965

Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself...
~Norman Wesley Brooks (1923–2002), "Let Every Day Be Christmas," 1976  [read full poem here –tg]

Keep your Christmas-heart open all the year round. ~J. L. W. Brooks

Christmas is anticipation for the children; it is memory for most adults. ~Eric Sevareid (1912–1992)

Santaclaus comes down the chimney on Christmas eve, and puts nuts, cakes, sugarplums, and pieces of money into hung stockings. In the morning, children take delight in the treasures! ~Anonymous, "Christmas," 1842  [a little altered —tg]

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in a living room where eight or ten people have just opened their Christmas presents. It should not be cleaned up too quickly. ~Andy Rooney (1919–2011)

He is coming again in the footsteps of time,
With his crown of pure snow and his buttons of rime,
And his pockets well crowded with bounty and blisses,
From bottles and turkeys to sugar and kisses.
Bring him in, bring him in, to the warmth and the light,
Where the holly-boughs gleam with their berries so bright
We shall find a warm heart beating under the snow,
When we crown him with sprigs of the green mistletoe...
Oh! Christmas, good Christmas, be gentle, I pray,
To the rich, and the poor, and the glad, and the gay;
Bind the wounds that are sore, link the chains that are broken,
And bring pardon for all that was bitterly spoken;
Lead the prodigal son o'er the sin-cover'd track,
And bring the pale daughter of misery back;
May an angel of love, gliding over the snow,
Kiss us all 'neath the boughs of the green mistletoe.
~Lizzie Marshall Berry (1847–1919), "Christmas," Heart Echoes: Original Miscellaneous and Devotional Poems, 1886

Oh, Christmas bells, your music swells upon the buoyant winter breeze. I dry my tears and shed my years, when I hear happy sounds like these. I'm gray and bent, an ancient gent, who may not see another spring; my knees are sprung, but I feel young, when Christmas bells begin to ring... Oh, Christmas bells, your music dwells forever in the old man's mind, recalls the truth of honest youth, the days he's left so far behind. ~Walt Mason (1862–1939), "Christmas Bells"

The bleak night wind is blowing shrill,
And hissing low
Above the snow,
The night is almost past;
The busy streets are hushed and still,
From all around,
No single sound—
’T is Christmas Eve at last!
~Louis Charles, "Christmas Eve, Ten Years Ago," 1878

Cupid's Forecast December — About the 25th of the month a terrific shower of gifts and good wishes may be looked for. ~Oliver Herford, Cupid's Fair-Weather Booke: To All Good Hearticulturists, 1911

There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child. Not to feel the cold on your bare feet as you rush to the Christmas tree in the living room. Not to have your eyes sparkle at the wonderment of discovery. Not to rip the ribbons off the shiny boxes with such abandon. ~Erma Bombeck, "Children of Christmas," 1969

Nothin's as mean as givin' a little child somethin' useful fer Christmus. ~Kin Hubbard (1868–1930)

Christmas-eve dawned upon a heavy fall of snow. There were two tiny baskets of holly berries. They put a sprig of wax-flowers and strawberry balls in the holly wreath, and then went off to the belfry where all the singers were assembled. The grand old peal rang out full and strong on the midnight air, and the tower rocked and quivered to the swing of the bells, and the first hour of Christ's own day began. ~Anonymous, "What the Angels Saw on Christmas-Eve," 1881  [a little altered –tg]

At Christmas play, and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes, but once a-year.
~Thomas Tusser, "The Farmer's Daily Diet," c.1557–1573

O child... it is only for thirty-six hours of the three hundred and sixty-five days, that all people remember that they are all brothers and sisters, and those are the hours that we call, therefore, Christmas eve and Christmas day. ~Edward E. Hale, "Christmas Waits in Boston," 1867

I wish we could preserve and put up this sacred Christmas spirit in one-pound tin boxes, like holiday fruitcake, and open a box of it every profane month all year long. ~Harlan Miller, There's a Man in the House, 1955

Isn't it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for — for — I don't know what for, exactly, but it's something you don't mind so much not having at other times. ~Kate Langley Bosher, How It Happened, 1914

      With the joyous Christmas season comes a longing that fills the breasts of countless thousands — a longing to be back home again. Even to him who has long been lost to its sweet influences, to the most abject and pitiful wanderer, come visions of a happy childhood, heart-choking recollections of someone near and dear back in the mist of years — an irresistible desire to be back again, somewhere, some place.
      What is more beautiful than a Christmas reunion at home where the hand of death has been merciful and the little flock, scattered for years, gathers again under the old roof — mother, father and all the children? ~Kin Hubbard (1868–1930)

I love the Christmas-tide, and yet,
I notice this, each year I live;
I always like the gifts I get,
But how I love the gifts I give!
~Carolyn Wells, 1913

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 is Christmas Eve, and the fairies come to good children and bring them gingerbread. ~C. C. Shackford, "Christmas Eve in Germany," c. 1870

For Christmas comes but once a year,
      When harvesting is ended;
With merry din, the day comes in,
      By love and mirth attended;
The children dance and shout with glee,
      The eyes of all are beaming,
And high above the Christmas tree
      The Star of Hope is gleaming.
~Edgar A. Guest, "Christmas Comes but Once a Year," The Friendly Way, 1931

At Christmas, all roads lead home. ~Marjorie Holmes, "At Christmas the Heart Goes Home," 1981

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. –tg]

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself. ~Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843

The test of all happiness is gratitude... Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs? We thank people for birthday presents of cigars and slippers. Can I thank no one for the birthday present of birth? ~Gilbert K. Chesterton, "The Ethics of Elfland," Orthodoxy, 1908

After the children, stuffed and sleepy, finally went to bed, Gertrude and Arnold sat together in the love seat and watched the tree lights blink. ~Ethel Pochocki (1925–2010), "The Attic Crèche," The Attic Mice, 1990

The Christmas tree is a symbol of love... ~Andy Rooney, "Just the Way It Is," in McCall's, 1982

We ring the bells and we raise the strain,
We hang up garlands everywhere
And bid the tapers twinkle fair,
And feast and frolic—and then we go
Back to the same old lives again...
~Susan Coolidge, "Christmas," 1878  [pseudonym of Sarah Chauncey Woolsey –tg]

In those old days—those fair old days—what fancies would we weave
When we sat, waiting for the old Saint to come on Christmas Eve!
The stockings, limp and shadow-like against the ruddy glow,
Agape in their expectancy, swung in a slanting row
That matched the difference in height of all our wond'ring heads—
We watched the fairy flames toss up their wealth of jewel-reds...
~Wilbur D. Nesbit, "Waiting," in The Reader, 1905

It matters not what the custom may be,
For Christmas is loved by you and by me!
Yes; the years may come and the years may go;
But, when December wind doth, coldly, blow,
We all, I guess, are just children once more
And we plan our gifts, as we did of yore.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "Christmas," 1940s

O still the child-heart throbs its songs and still the child-soul lives...
We hush the knowledge that we have and struggle to believe
The wonder-tales we know are true—the tales of Christmas Eve...
We nod in time to childish rhyme, to songs we had forgot,
We clutch the golden memories of days that now are not;
And O! the night is very long, the hour is grievous late,
But still, with olden faith regained, we bide our time and wait.
And from the door of youth our dream the barring curtain draws,
And we—aye, we, as children all—still wait for Santa Claus!
~Wilbur D. Nesbit, "Waiting," in The Reader, 1905

Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles. ~1800 Quotes, Quips, and Squibs, E. C. McKenzie, 1972

The gift itself is not so much—
Perhaps you've had a dozen such;
Its value, when reduced to gold,
May seem too trifling to be told;
But someone, loving, kind, and true,
Selected it—and thought of You.
The gift may have a hollow ring—
The love behind it is the thing!
~Walt Mason (1862–1939), "Christmas Gift"

Very gay they were with snow and sleigh-bells, holly-boughs, and garlands, below, and Christmas sunshine in the winter sky above. All faces shone, all voices had a cheery ring, and everybody stepped briskly on errands of good‑will. ~Louisa May Alcott, "Seamstress," Work: A Story of Experience, 1873

It is the blessed Christmas-tide, the eve of the holy Christmas Day. The snow-flakes are falling softly and silently, as do the blessings of the season, on all who greet it with hearts pure, loving, and true.... It is spreading a winding sheet over the plains, loading down the fir-boughs in the forests, and lies in heaps upon the thatch of the woodcutter's cottage, whitening the monastery, its walls and eaves, putting snowy crowns on the castle's ancient towers, frosting the cities, incrusting spire and chimney, building and town. The whole world seems enveloped in the storm this Christmas eve. ~Annie I. Willis, "Welcome to Christmas," c. 1876

Christmas tree baubles only become valuable when they are veterans, fetched down every year from the attic, a little more worse for wear each year, but worth their weight in memories. ~Peter Gray, quoted in Merry Christmas, 1992,  [I suspect that this may be a pseudonym of Pam Brown but have yet to verify. —tg]

Used to think that Christmas was nothin' but a day
To get a lot o' presents an' to give a lot away.
Shouted "Merry Christmas!" an' helped to trim the tree—
Just a day o' Christmas was all that I could see.
Since I found that Christmas is more than just a day,
Christmas came to our house—an' never went away.
Struck me of a sudden that friendliness an' cheer
Was meant to be on duty more than one day in the year!
If we're happy Christmas, why not the day before
An' the day that follows, an' so on, evermore?
~Wilbur D. Nesbit, "Always Christmas," 1910

There is something in the very season of the year, that gives a charm to the festivity of Christmas. The imagination turns every thing to melody and beauty! It is, indeed, the season for kindling, not merely the fire of hospitality in the hall, but the genial flame of charity in the heart. What bosom can remain insensible to the call of happiness, the bustle of the spirits, and stir of the affections? ~Washington Irving, "Christmas," The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., 1819  [a little altered –tg]

The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another: but... there is a danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected. ~Samuel Johnson, 1776, quoted in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., 1791

Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing;
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.
~Grace Noll Crowell, "Let Us Keep Christmas," 1939

It is better to give than to receive a Christmas gift because you don't have the bother of exchanging it. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes by Evan Esar, 1968

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!
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Christmas Bells," 1866

Christmas is coming; it is almost here!
With Santa and presents, good will and cheer!
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "Christmas," 1940s

Santa knows Physics: Of all colors, Red Light penetrates fog best. That's why Benny the Blue-nosed reindeer never got the gig. ~Neil deGrasse Tyson, @neiltyson, tweet, 2014

At midnight's hour the solemn sound,
      The moaning swell
Hark, to the sound of that mystic bell,
Steals o'er my heart like a magic spell!
Tolls this bell upon my ear
      A cloud of frosty light
      So soft and clear,
This long December night—
      A chant of praise,
      For peaceful days.
Christmas Eve, watching the fire,
This dreary night, with visions bright;
Cheerful faces gladden my Christmas Eve
Upon a ghostly Winter's night.
~Louis Charles, "Christmas Eve, Ten Years Ago," 1878  [Abridged, intense sadness purged. Forgive me, please, dear Mr Charles, I transformed your beautiful but mournful poem to cheer. –tg]

The experienced reader knows it was Christmas Eve, without my telling him. It always is Christmas Eve, in a ghost story. ~Jerome K. Jerome, Told After Supper, 1891

As required by the rules of the spectral world, the experience came on a Christmas Eve... ~John Kendrick Bangs, "Being a Ghost," 1896

"To be sure!" said Scrooge to the Ghost. "Yo ho, my boys!" said Fezziwig, "no more work to-night. Christmas Eve, Ebenezer! Hilli-ho! Chirrup!" ~Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843  [a little altered —tg]

Ghosts never appear on Christmas Eve. ~English proverb, 1800s

Would that Christmas lasted the whole year through (as it ought)... ~Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Dinner"

’Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
’Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.
~Walter Scott, Marmion, 1808

A cup of ale,
A merry tale
Of days of olden time,
And Christmas good cheer
To wind up the year
With glad frolic, and fun, and glee.
~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), "Winter's Song," The Ministry of the Beautiful, 1850

I had been jostled by the hurrying crowd all day. Women hurrying into or out of dry goods stores, toy shops, china stores, men coming from or going into jewelry stores, all were bright, merry, and good-natured.... It was snowing hard, but no one minded it; no umbrellas were raised to impede the energetic progress of those busy feet. Christmas Eve! Who cares for rain or wind or sleet? for hearts and minds are engaged with pleasant works and thoughts, and everything is forgotten but the joy of making others happy. And snow! It is received with shouts of welcome, and people walk around like white feathered creatures, thinking of the merry bells that will signal a crowning joy for the holiday. ~Mrs. C. K. Reifsnider, "The Implement Man's Christmas Vision," in The Coming Age, 1899

Somebody's coming here to‑night
      When the skies are dark and the stars are bright,
      And I thought I'd leave him a little bite.
He's a gentleman, jolly and generous too,
      He is short and fat and his eyes are blue,
      And he always comes to us down the flue.
He waits till he's sure we're sound asleep—
      He wouldn't come if he thought we'd peep,
      For he has secrets he wants to keep...
~Susie M. Best, "A Surprise for Santa Claus," c.1894

Santa Claus has the right idea — visit people once a year! ~Victor Borge, c.1958

More than Santa Claus, your sister knows when you've been bad and good. ~Linda Sunshine, "You're Only Jung Once," Mom Loves Me Best (And Other Lies You Told Your Sister), 1990

He's making a database
He's sorting it twice
SELECT * from contacts WHERE behavior = 'nice'
SQL Clause is coming to town
~Karen Kringle, tweet, 2015

Everyone slips onto the naughty list once in a while. ~Stevie Wermers-Skelton, Kevin Deters, and Chris Williams, Prep & Landing, 2009

My childhood's Christmases each brought to me
The wondrous glory of a Christmas tree;
Now, every year, since I've to manhood grown,
I buy a tree for children of my own.
And so to‑night my mind looks back and sees
Life a long avenue of Christmas trees.
~Carolyn Wells, "Christmas Eve," Idle Idyls, 1900

There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas. Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellow-men are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness — are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas. And if you can keep it for a day, why not always? ~Henry Van Dyke, "The Spirit of Christmas: Keeping Christmas," Counsels by the Way, 1908

'T is Christmas morn! awake, awake,
Let each with care his stocking take,
      Full to the very brim...
~M., "The Christmas Gift," The Children's Magazine, 1833

I can understand people simply fleeing the mountainous effort Christmas has become... But there are always a few saving graces and finally they make up for all the bother and distress. ~May Sarton, 1971

We look back on our childhood
When we all were so gay;
There was nothing but pleasure
Every dear Christmas Day...
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "When Christmas Comes," 1940s

It was Christmas, all right. It was the beginning of a beautiful day of nonsense and teasing and love and fun... The living room was littered with bright paper and ribbon and stickers and tags and string. ~Frances Frost, Sleigh Bells for Windy Foot, 1948

Unbar your heart this evening
And keep no stranger out,
Take from your soul's great portal
The barrier of doubt.
To humble folk and weary
Give hearty welcoming,
Your breast shall be to-morrow
The cradle of a King.
~Joyce Kilmer, "Gates and Doors: A Ballad of Christmas Eve," 1915

I think that I shall never see
A sight more festive than a tree…
A tree just full of Christmas cheer
At this most happy time of year...
~William Arthur Ward, "The Christmas Tree"

Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. ~Calvin Coolidge, 1927

The first Christmas was a myrrhy Christmas. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes by Evan Esar, 1968

A man is at his finest towards the finish of the year;
He is almost what he should be when the Christmas season's here;
Then he's thinking more of others than he's thought the months before,
And the laughter of his children is a joy worth toiling for.
He is less a selfish creature than at any other time;
When the Christmas spirit rules him he comes close to the sublime...
~Edgar A. Guest, "At Christmas," Just Folks, 1917

      I was a normal child of normal parents, who laid out a traditional crèche. Their nativity scene had the proper number of shepherds, angels, lambs, sheep, oxen, and wise men complete with entourage of camels and servants. When I married, I started out with my own appropriate manger, bought at a religiously correct gift shop.
      But something happened. I think it began when my son brought home a red-velvet deer, one golden antler missing, bought at a school bazaar. It joined the crew at the manger. That paved the way for other pilgrims: a glass bluebird, a china calico cat, a wooden rabbit with drum, a turkey salt shaker, a black ceramic pony with flowers in its mane, and three see-, hear-, and speak-no-evil monkeys joined at the hips. They sat on the roof of the stable with the angel.
      Each year the company of characters grew, until the manger had to be brought out from under the tree onto a table. It was the most delightful of scenes. ~Ethel Pochocki (1925–2010), “Still Acceptably Quaint, But Flirting With ‘Odd,’” 1996   [A little altered. This is what my grandmother's Christmas nativity scene was like too! Ms Pochocki wrote a lengthier description of this same hodgepodge scene in her story "The Attic Crèche" incorporated into her 1990 book The Attic Mice.—tg]

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

Lots of us go ploddin' along the road o' life
An' think one day o' gladness will make up for all the strife—
But the Christmas spirit can show you how you need
To make each day a Christmas in thought an' word an' deed—
Used to pack the kindness in camphor balls next day
Till Christmas came to our house—an' never went away.
~Wilbur D. Nesbit, "Always Christmas," 1910

That is the fun about fairies and fairy-like people, you know, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy wouldn't be half so much fun if they were like we are. They can do all sorts of things that we never could do! ~Louise Price Bell, "There IS a Santa Claus!," 1935

Holly in December, an' violets in May—
An' Christmas came to our house — an' never went away.
~Wilbur D. Nesbit, "Always Christmas," 1910

’Tis blessed to bestow, and yet,
Could we bestow the gifts we get,
And keep the ones we give away,
How happy were our Christmas Day!
~Carolyn Wells, "A Christmas Thought," 1900

As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, then Christmas is. ~Eric Sevareid (1912–1992)

'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....
~Clement Clarke Moore, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," 1823

We hear the beating of wings over Bethlehem and a light that is not of the sun or of the stars shines in the midnight sky. Let the beauty of the story take away all narrowness, all thought of formal creeds. Let it be remembered as a story that has happened again and again, to men of many different races, that has been expressed through many religions, that has been called by many different names. Time and space and language lay no limitations upon human brotherhood. ~"On Christmas Morning," editorial, New York Times, 1937 December 25th

The glad greeting of Merry Christmas is a pledge of brotherhood. We are one great family. No wonder that Christmas is above all others the family day. A transfigured atmosphere of peace and love breathes around the home. The gifts and tenders of affection cement more closely the sacred ties of family life. The peace and love of this hallowed time shines like a halo around us; it goes with us as we hasten through the crowded streets; it brightens and cheers those we meet. There are no strangers on Christmas Day... ~J. T. Driscoll, "The Message of Christmas," in The Catholic World, December 1904  [a little altered –tg]

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign...
~Christina G. Rossetti, Time Flies: A Reading Diary, 1886

That is the glory of Christmas. It triumphs over all obstacles; it breaks down all barriers; it flourishes in all countries and in every heart. For the spirit of Christmas fulfills the greatest hunger of mankind. ~Loring Ashley Schuler (1886–1968)

Depending on how good you are at watching and analyzing the weather, taking down the Christmas lights is something that can be postponed until the end of July. ~Robert Kirby, "Up on the Roof Top," Family Home Screaming, 1999

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 –tg]

The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "In Memoriam A. H. H., Obiit MDCCCXXXIII," 1850

When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow,
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago.
      And etched on vacant places,
      Are half forgotten faces
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know...
~Ella Wheeler Wilcox, "Christmas Fancies," Custer and Other Poems, 1896

All my heart this night rejoices,
      As I hear,
      Far and near,
Sweetest angel voices...
Their choirs are singing,
      Till the air
Now with joy is ringing.
~Paul Gerhardt, "All My Heart This Night Rejoices," 1656, translated from German by Catherine Winkworth

The earth has grown old with its burden of care,
But at Christmas it always is young...
~Phillips Brooks, "Christmas Carol," c. 1890

Dear Santa:
For my yuletide bring me, please,
A blight to ruin blinking Christmas trees
On people's lawns, and for suburbanites
Who deck their juniper with purple lights
I'd like a special pox, and, if you will,
Please leave an extra-potent deadly ill
At homes whose every bilious window seethes
With red-light-bearing artificial wreaths.
And on the credit side, you might supply
A merry Christmas to the gracious guy
Who decks his doorway with a holly sprig—
Unlighted, genuine, and not too big.
~Gerald Raftery (1905–1986), "Crank Letter," in The New Yorker, 1939

Let Christmas not become a thing
Merely of merchant's trafficking,
Of tinsel, bell and holly wreath
And surface pleasure, but beneath
The childish glamour, let us find
Nourishment for soul and mind.
Let us follow kinder ways
Through our teeming human maze,
And help the age of peace to come
From a Dreamer's martyrdom.
~Madeline Morse, "Christmas Prayer," c. 1930

A man is known by the Christmas he keeps. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1904, George Horace Lorimer, editor

Though I sit in darkness this Christmas eve,
I know that the world is fair,
And the musical chime of the Christmas bells
Will ring on the morning air.
~Lilian Whiting, "A Christmas Message," From Dreamland Sent, 1895

Christmas begins about the first of December with an office party and ends when you finally realize what you spent, around April fifteenth of the next year. ~P. J. O'Rourke, Modern Manners, 1983

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). –tg]

Christmas wouldn’t be the same
      if we couldn’t get in touch
      with all the friends and family
      who mean so very much.
Each Christmas we have shared
      with friends both far and near
      has made our years together
      so memorable and dear.
~Norman Wesley Brooks (1923–2002)

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)

Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused — in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened — by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before, dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes — of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world, who cannot call up such thoughts any day in the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five, for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire — fill the glass and send round the song — and if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it off-hand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it's no worse. Look on the merry faces of your children (if you have any) as they sit round the fire. One little seat may be empty; one slight form that gladdened the father's heart, and roused the mother's pride to look upon, may not be there. Dwell not upon the past; think not that one short year ago, the fair child now resolving to dust, sat before you, with the bloom of health upon its cheek, and the gaiety of infancy in its joyous eye. Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Fill your glass again, with a merry face and contented heart. Our life on it, but your Christmas shall be merry, and your new year a happy one! ~Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Dinner"

I do like Christmas on the whole... In its clumsy way, it does approach Peace and Goodwill. But oh, it is clumsier every year. ~E. M. Forster, Howards End, 1910

To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year. ~E. B. White, "Notes and Comment," The New Yorker, 1949 December 24th

Next to a circus there ain't nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit. ~Kin Hubbard (1868–1930)  [spelling standardized —tg]

...treating them to ginger-snaps, because it was Christmas Eve.  ~Edward E. Hale, "They Saw A Great Light: A Christmas Story," 1873

Whene'er I find a man who don't
Believe in Santa Claus,
And spite of all remonstrance won't
Yield up to logic's laws,
And see in things that lie about
The proof by no means dim,
I straightway cut that fellow out,
And don't believe in him...
~John Kendrick Bangs, "A Toast to Santa Claus," A Little Book of Christmas, 1912

I'll just help you get the tired little folks off to bed, and then we'll go out and do our bit of Christmas Eve marketing. ~Nelsie Brook, "George Ranford's Happy Christmas Eve," 1874  [A little altered. Pseudonym of Ellen Edith Alice McGregor Stalker Ross (c.1816–1892). –tg]

It is pleasant to think how much kindly feeling exists this night. Estrangements which have embittered the whole year, melt in to-night's hospitable smile. There are warmer hand-shakings on this night than during the bypast twelve months. You get up at midnight and toss your spare coppers to the half-benumbed musicians whiffling beneath your windows, although at any other time you would consider their performance a nuisance, and call angrily for the police. Good feeling incarnates itself in plum-pudding. The Master's words, "The poor ye have always with you," wear at this time a deep significance. For at least one night on each year over all Christendom there is brotherhood. "Peace on earth and goodwill toward men" — pray that battle and strife may vex the nations no more, that not only on Christmas-eve but the whole year round, men shall be brethren. ~Alexander Smith, "Christmas at Dreamthorp," 1863  [a little altered —tg]

There are other books of the heart around me, but on Christmas Eve it is Alexander Smith's "Dreamthorp" which always seems to lie at my hand, and when I take it up the well-worn volume falls open at the essay on "Christmas." It is a good many years since Rosalind and I began to read together on Christmas Eve this beautiful meditation on the season, and now it has gathered about itself such a host of memories that it has become part of our common past. ~Hamilton Wright Mabie, "My Study Fire: Christmas Eve," 1885

Christmas is a guest that always comes a month before arriving. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes by Evan Esar, 1968  [And now it's two, three, four! —tg]

The Christmas season is starting to last longer than the basketball season. ~Roasts, Toasts & One-Liners by Gene Perret and Terry Perret Martin, 1997–2001

Sam:  Christmas is not just a holiday to me. It's a season, it's a lifestyle.
Jay:  It's a coffee flavor that she starts using in June.
~Ghosts, "The Christmas Spirit, Part One," 2022, written by Emily Schmidt  [S2, E9]

It's the week between Christmas and New Year's Day aka “It's OK to Accomplish Absolutely Nothing” week! Yay! ~Aaron Caycedo-Kimura, INFJoe, @infjoecartoons, Instagram post, 2019,

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published 2000 Apr 10
revised Oct 2020, Sep 2022
last saved 2024 Apr 26