Dec 23, 2011

Old Saint Nicholas

On this day in 1823 in the Troy NY Sentinel published the poem we know as "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore. It was published anonymously under the newspaper editor’s title, Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas. Moore wrote it a year earlier and read it to his children, who saved it.

He was a professor of Oriental and Greek literature and never sought to do any more than read the story to his children that one time. Clement referred to the poem "a mere trifle." Some have questioned whether he was the author, but proof of another writer has been elusive.

It is known that Donner and Blitzen were originally from ''Dunder'' and ''Blixem'' Dutch for thunder and lightning. Rudolph didn't come along until 1939, but that's another story on my blog from December 17, 2010.

Prior to the poem, American ideas about St. Nicholas and other Christmas visitors varied considerably. The poem has influenced ideas about St. Nicholas and Santa Claus beyond the United States to the rest of the world. He was the first to describe eight tiny reindeer. Oh, and it ended with 'Happy Christmas to all'.