A Visit From St. Nicholas, 1823

Author Note: Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Things got really busy at the end of the semester, but I am finally back and ready to write about history again!

‘Twas the day before the night before Christmas in 1823 that the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was published in a New York newspaper. Today, the poem- which also goes by the names “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “The Night Before Christmas”- is attributed to American poet Clement Clarke Moore who is said to have written the poem for his children. Its opening lines are some of the most recognizable lines in American poetry:

‘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…
Moore published the beloved children’s poem anonymously because he did not want to be associated with it. You see, Moore was very scholarly and did not want the poem to tarnish his reputation. The poem grew in popularity and in 1844, Moore included “A Visit From St. Nicholas” in his Poems, thus taking credit for the poem. However, not everyone believes that Moore wrote the poem. Others, namely Major Henry Livingston, Jr., have been credited with writing the poem.

Early depiction of Saint Nicholas.

Regardless of who wrote the poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas” has largely influenced the popular image of Santa Claus and established the names and number of his reindeer.
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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