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The Night Before Christmas

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Perhaps the most famous Christmas story is "A Visit from St. Nicholas," a poem published anonymously in 1823. It remains a part of the Christmas tradition, with many people able to quote lines from the poem with ease. However, people more commonly know the poem by its first line, "Twas the night before Christmas."

The story provides a firsthand account of Santa Claus's visit by a father startled awake. He watches the old man place presents beneath the Christmas tree.

The current image of Santa Claus largely comes from the poem. The story describes the man, his sleigh and flying reindeer, and the toys he brings to good boys and girls. It gives him the power to ascend a chimney by nodding his head. It's the first mention of his eight reindeer by name too.


Preview the lesson material:

Warm Up: Discuss the question with your partner for five minutes.

  1. What do you know about Santa Claus? Please discuss.

Comprehension Questions: Answer the questions before/after your read the article.

  1. The most famous Christmas story is "The Night Before Christmas."  T / F
  2. According to the article, no one knew who published the article at the time.  T / F
  3. The image of Santa Claus comes from many traditional stories.  T / F
  4. The story explains how Santa gave names to his eight reindeer.  T / F

Discuss: Discuss these questions with a partner. Remember to support your answers.

  1. Have you ever heard the story, "A Visit from Santa Claus?"
  2. What other poems, stories, or songs are connected with Christmas?
  3. What Christmas traditions do you have in your home country? Please explain.

Download the lesson:

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