Appreciating all that makes America special

“Twas The Night Before Christmas”

Twas the Night Before Christmas,

Much of our cultural understanding of Santa comes from this 1823 poem. Uploaded by

How does Santa Claus look? We can thank the Coca-Cola Company for giving Americans a visual that we all now accept as the jolly old man. And where did Coke get its inspiration, and what shaped our understanding of what Santa does when he gets to our homes? For that, we can thank New York’s Clement Moore, and his 1823 poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” known better as “Twas The Night Before Christmas.”

A Visit from St. Nicholas,

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Moore put it all in there – the sleigh, the reindeer, the chimney, the presents. Some of these elements sprang from his imagination; others (like the reindeer names) did not. But it’s pretty remarkable how much of our cultural understanding of Santa Claus came to us through this one poem.

Interestingly, poetry wasn’t Moore’s primary interest. He was, in fact, a theologian and bible scholar – Professor of Biblical Learning at General Theological Seminary. He didn’t seem to see any reason for believers not to celebrate Christmas or to avoid telling their children about Santa. He even gave us Santa’s first quote: “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”



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