How to Include Poetry in Your Family’s Holiday Traditions

Holiday Season

The winter holidays can be a fun and exciting time for both kids and adults. This year, why not integrate poetry into your family’s celebrations of the season? Add literary flair to your family’s traditions by including poems in your festivities.

Here are three simple ways to incorporate poetry into your seasonal celebrations.

Add Poems to Your Holiday Countdown

If your annual celebrations include the tradition of counting down the days or nights until a special day, it’s simple to integrate poetry into your existing ritual. For example, families that observe Hanukkah or Kwanzaa could include the reading of one special poem during each night of their celebration. For families that use an Advent calendar to count down the days of Christmas, a holiday-related poem can be tucked into each day’s pocket. Family members can take turns being the one to read the poem aloud.

A Holiday Poetry Reading

Work together with your children to design and coordinate a holiday poetry reading. This could take place at a traditional family gathering, such as before or after serving the Thanksgiving meal, or it could be a new and separate holiday event for friends and neighbors. In the invitations, explain that each person should bring their favorite holiday poem to read aloud.

It’s likely that your guests will only have one or two classic holiday poems in mind. One way to approach this is to invite guests with the same poem to read it aloud together, perhaps even with dramatic flair! With the most famous poems, you might even discover that someone in your group can recite parts of the poems by memory, which adds to the fun.

Or, if you prefer for each guest to read a different poem, you might consider providing a list of possibilities and having each guest RSVP with the poem they intend to bring—like a poem potluck! Here are a few Christmas poems that are fun to read aloud:

A Visit from St. Nicholas, by Clement Clarke Moore
Christmas Bells, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Light the Festive Candles, by Aileen Fisher
Love Came Down at Christmas, by Christina Rossetti

Be sure to also ask for family-friendly suggestions from your guests. You may learn a new “classic” poem this year!

Write a Family Poem Together

One fun holiday activity is to collaborate on a family poem. Each family member writes down several sentences about something he or she loves to see, smell, hear, feel, and taste at the holidays. Younger children may need assistance with this part. Then, as a group, decide how to combine all the lines collaboratively into a family poem. Have younger children draw or collage an image to illustrate your poem. (Older kids may prefer to find appropriate clip art on the Internet.)

There are many ways to use your family poem to celebrate the season. Consider displaying the final illustrated poem on your fridge or mantelpiece. You might also want to use the illustrated poem as the basis for your family’s annual holiday card.

There are countless ways to include poetry in your seasonal celebrations this winter. Add a literary tradition to your traditional festivities this year, and celebrate poetry all year long!