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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Writing A Christmas Legend

“’Twas the night before Christmas . . . “ – Clement Clarke Moore

Moore was a straitlaced, no-nonsense academician who served as a professor of classics at the General Theological Seminary in New York City, focused on writing for “an erudite readership” when he penned those famous words.  Fortunately for the rest of us, the man had children.

Legend has it that Moore composed A Visit from St. Nicholas for his kids on Christmas Eve, during a sleigh-ride home from Greenwich Village. He supposedly drew inspiration for St. Nick from a roly-poly Dutchman driving his family in that sleigh, although from what we know of Clement Moore, it's more likely that he drew his imagery from literary sources.  
Moore published his famous poem on Christmas Eve 1823. 
                                        While the scholarly Moore was at first hesitant to publicly acknowledge his association with such an “unscholarly” verse, his kids – for whom he had composed the piece in the first place – were proud of the tale and wanted children everywhere to know who to thank for those magical words.

Moore’s poem is largely responsible for Santa Claus as we know him today, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of his transportation, the number and names of his reindeer, and the tradition that he brings toys to children.   So, as St. Nick exclaimed ere he drove out of sight: “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.” 

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