On this day in 1823, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was first published anonymously in the Troy, New York Sentinel.
”’A Visit from St. Nicholas’, also known as ‘The Night Before Christmas’ and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ from its first line, is a poem first published anonymously in 1823 and generally attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, although the claim has also been made that it was written by Henry Livingston, Jr.
The poem, which has been called ‘arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American’, is largely responsible for the conception of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer, as well as the tradition that he brings toys to children. Prior to the poem, American ideas about St. Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors varied considerably. The poem has influenced ideas about St. Nicholas and Santa Claus beyond the United States to the rest of the English-speaking world and beyond.”
Pictured: Children hanging stockings on Christmas Eve. Ohio, 1928.