A Visit From St. Nicholas
Reading Comprehension Activity

Author: Clement C. Moore

While this beloved Christmas poem was published anonymously in 1823, it is attributed to Clement C. Moore. Often known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” it tells of a magical encounter on Christmas Ever with Santa Claus. Students will read the poem then find and explain some of the similes.

Topic(s): Fairy Tales & Fables, Folklore, Myths & Legends. Skill(s): Figurative Language. Genre(s): Poetry

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‘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;

The children were
nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of
sugarplums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her ‘kerchief,
and I in my cap,

Had just settled our
brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn
there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to
see what was the matter.

Away to the window I
flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters
and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast
of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of
midday to objects below,

When, what to my
wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh,
and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old
driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it
must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles
his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and
shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, Dasher! now,
Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid!
on, Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch!
to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash
away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that
before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an
obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the housetop
the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of
Toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a
twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing
of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head,
and was turning around,

Down the chimney St.
Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in
fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all
tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of Toys he had
flung on his back,

And he looked like a
peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they
twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like
roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth
was drawn up like a bow

And the beard of his
chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he
held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it
encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a
little round belly,

That shook when he
laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump,
a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw
him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a
twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I
had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but
went straight to his work,

And filled all the
stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger
aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the
chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh,
to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew
like the down of a thistle,

But I heard him exclaim,
ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all,
and to all a good-night.”

Comprehension Questions

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