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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

'And To All . . .'

“‘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 his writing on books and essays for “an erudite readership.”   And yet, during the joyous season of Christmas, 1822, he wrote down these words to begin a poem that – arguably – may be the best-known Christmas verse ever written for children.

He wrote A Visit from St. Nicholas on Christmas Eve after a sleigh-ride home from Greenwich Village. He supposedly drew inspiration for the elfin, pot-bellied St. Nick from the roly-poly Dutch driver of his family’s sleigh – who entertained Moore’s kids with a tale about the Dutch legend of Sinter Klass during the ride.


Moore actually anonymously published the poem on this date in 1823.  And while he 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 writing of their dad and wanted children everywhere to know who to thank for penning the magical ’Twas The Night Before Christmas.


 Moore’s poem is largely credited with depicting Santa Claus as we know him today, including his physical appearance, the time of his visit, his mode of transportation, and the number and names of his reindeer.    “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

Clement Clarke Moore and a friend of his kids




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