seeking public domain stories/poems/plays for winter holidays
September 1, 2020 11:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm working on a podcast that is dramatic readings (some plays, longform poetry, short stories, etc.) and we are using things that are in the public domain so that we don't have to worry about copyright or licensing, and can adapt them if needed. For December, we want to do episodes around Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year. Looking for suggestions of stories, poems, plays, or other narratives that are in the public domain, or otherwise available for free or relatively low-price production?

I'm most concerned about finding quality material for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the solstice, but would take recommendations for the other two holidays, as well! And would be open to any other winter holiday I may have missed - I want to make sure that we are hitting as many major December/winter holidays as possible.

Thanks in advance!
posted by firei to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus would be good.

(Also, as a Jew, just once I wish people would *skip* doing Hanukkah stuff at Christmastime in the name of inclusion and instead devote a podcast to us in September or October (or maybe April) when our actually big holidays happen, you know? Hanukkah is on par with, like, Saint Patrick's Day as a holiday for Jews. Also, I don't think you *can* find any specifically Kwanzaa stuff in the public domain due to age/copyright expiration, because Kwanzaa was invented in 1966, and the public domain includes works made before 1924. /editorializing)
posted by shadygrove at 1:06 PM on September 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Quick note and then I'll see myself out!

Shadygrove, thank you for the comment! We are just starting (kicking off in November) so in our planning for December, we didn't want to be exclusionary. But I also understand what you're saying about Hanukkah not being a big holiday. I will definitely keep that in mind in planning out our April, September, and October content next year! And re: Kwanzaa, yeah, I was just hoping someone might pop up with "oh there's this great Creative Commons/copyright free Kwanzaa story I know...)
posted by firei at 1:11 PM on September 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

A Christmas Carol
posted by Melismata at 1:11 PM on September 1, 2020

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posted by winesong at 1:14 PM on September 1, 2020

In Memoriam by Tennyson ("Ring out, wild bells") would make a fairly dramatic reading for New Year.
posted by Azara at 1:31 PM on September 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Oxen by Thomas Hardy is one of my favorite Christmas poems. It was first published in The London Times during World War I, so it was a poem for a dark time.
posted by FencingGal at 1:55 PM on September 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

For solstice, Susan Cooper's poem The Shortest Day is amazing. It's not public domain, but it's usable for non-commercial purposes, and my understanding is that she often gives permission to use it if you write her (contact info at link).
posted by gideonfrog at 1:58 PM on September 1, 2020

Li'l Epps had some suggestions:
I’m surprised no one has suggested The Night Before Christmas yet.

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle isn’t the most Christmas-y of Christmas stories, but the anti-prison moral feels particularly relevant right now.

Seconding the classic A Christmas Carol, though I’m not sure if it’s short enough for your standards. The story itself is so-so, but the imagery is absolutely beautiful.
posted by Margalo Epps at 6:16 PM on September 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Washington Irving’s Old Christmas may be a bit long in its entirety, but it contains some really lovely passages that might be appropriate. It’s had a great influence on how Americans thought of Christmas.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:37 PM on September 2, 2020

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