Clement C. Moore wrote the Christmas poem, "The Night Before Christmas," then called "A Visit From St. Nicholas" for his family and children during a sleigh ride home from Greenwich Village on December 24, 1822. This poem is responsible for creating what is now the American image of Santa Claus.

Songs such as "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," written in 1934 and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, " written in 1939 by Robert L. May, and employee for Montgomery Ward Company as a sales gimmick, have further added to the traditions and myths which surround this holiday season.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
(Written By: J. Fred Coots, Henry Gillespie (c) 1934)


You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry,
You'd better not pout, I'm telling you why,
Santa Claus is comin' to town.

He's making a list, checkin' it twice,
He's gonna find out who's naughty and nice,
Santa Claus is comin' to town.

He sees you when you're sleepin',
He knows when you're awake,
He knows if you've been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake.

Oh, you'd better watch out, you'd better not cry,
You'd better not pout, I'm tellin' you why,
Santa Claus is comin' to town.

 

The Night Before Christmas

or A Visit From St. Nicholas

by Clement C. Moore

'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 sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap. 

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutter, 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 courses 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 house-top the courses 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 on 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 bowl full 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!"

 

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Created 12-1-04