‘Twas the Night before ChristmasPosted: 24th of December 2014 by
With all your presents bought (hopefully) and wrapped, you can settle down and get ready for tomorrow. As you no doubt know, Christmas Eve is associated with Father Christmas traveling around the globe delivering presents to those who have been good. Of course, the image of the red-suited Santa Claus on his sleigh, pulled by reindeer is one that we are all familiar with, but this image is not quite as old as you might expect.
The rotund, red-suited Santa Claus was actually something invented by Coca Cola, who commissioned Swedish-American artist Haddon Sundblom to paint Santa for the company’s Christmas adverts back in 1931.
While Father Christmas had been pictured wearing red in the past (as St. Nicholas), it was Sundblom and Coca Cola who popularised the modern-day image of Santa. Before this, Santa had been portrayed in a variety of guises including as tall and thin and even frightening!
As for the sleigh and reindeers, that came about in 1822 in the poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,’ as written by Clement Clarke Moore. Before this, St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children was never associated with his famous form of transport.
The poem was sent, sources say, to the New York Sentinel by his friend, Miss H. Butler. The paper printed the poem on 23rd December, 1823, although Clement remained anonymous as the writer (at his request) until 1844, when he admitted authorship by printing the poem in a book of his poetry.
Interestingly, there is no mention of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer in the poem, since he was not invented until 1939, when Robert L. May was asked to create a colouring book for Chicago-based firm Mongomery Ward. May considered calling his reindeer Rollo and Reginald before deciding upon Rudolph, who appeared in the book as a poem similar to ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.’
So, wishing you a very Merry Christmas, we present Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem:
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 sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains 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 lustre of mid-day 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, on Donner 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 house-top 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 little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of 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 bowlful 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, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
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