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Twas the Night



Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863)

From New York he was a biblical scholar, a professor of Asian and Greek literature, an author, and multilingual.

It was anonymously published as “A Visit From St. Nicholas” in the Troy Sentinel. The poem was eventually known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas” after it’s opening line. The paper started a tradition of reprinting it each holiday season.

It changed the mythos of Santa Claus. Santa became a round, jolly gift-giver with twinkling eyes and rosy cheeks. Now, families read it and make it a part of their own individual holiday tradition.


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘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 sugarplums danced in their heads;

And Mana in her kerchief and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap.


When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.


Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.


The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen snow,

Gave the luster 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 coursers 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, Donder 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 housetop the coursers 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 like 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 as he drove out of sight,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”


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