The Night Before Christmas
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;....
These words begin one of the most widely known poems of all time. Every year the reading of "The Night Before Christmas", also known by the title "A Visit From St. Nicholas", is a tradition that millions have come to enjoy, but not very many know how the poem came to be.
Clement C. Moore was a professor of Oriental and Greek literature at the General Theological Seminary located in New York. He was well known for his publications on Biblical and historical histories, including a Hebrew lexicon. He was also a clergyman, a linguist, and a father of nine children.
It was Christmas Eve, 1822; and Moore set out in his sleigh to pick up some holiday supplies and last–minute gifts. As he drove along that crisp December morning, he was thinking about the special gift that he had promised to give his six–year–old daughter, Charity. Maybe it was the sight of new-fallen snow, or a jolly, fat man he saw as he made his rounds that finally gave him the inspiration he needed for his gift. Moore returned home and retired to his study to write the poem that we all know and love.
The poem would have remained a family secret, but Charity treasured her father's gift and proudly recited it to a friend several months later who then sent a copy of it to the Troy Sentinel. The piece appeared in the paper the following Christmas. Moore was chagrined by the publicity the poem received. After all he was known for his serious works. Within a few years the poem was reprinted in periodicals everywhere. Finally in 1837, Moore reluctantly acknowledged its authorship.