01 December 2011

Day 2 of Christmas Nightlight Readings: A Visit from St. Nicholas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' 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 will be there...
Most of us have the poem memorized (or at least parts of it) and have seen many cartoon shorts depicting the story, but almost no one realizes the impact on Christmas and the jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus. Written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823 after a snow sleigh ride for his children. Of course the concept of St. Nicholas has graced Christmas Day since early dates, but this is the first instance that St. Nick arrived on Christmas Eve being pulled through the sky on a sleigh with eight tiny reindeer. The image described of Santa Claus in this poem is the way we recognize him today: rosy cheeks, snow-white beard, a round belly that "shook like a bowl full of jelly." Prior to this poem—of course there was always St. Nicholas—the concept of Christmastide visitors and Santa Claus varied. This was the first instance that Santa Claus was conceptualized in every American (and later Europe) home and childhood heart.

For further detail on the Santa Claus we know today, this is a great video!

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