A Visit from St. Nicholas

A Visit from St. Nicholas

Overview
"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
Clement Clarke Moore
Clement Clarke Moore was an American professor of Oriental and Greek literature at Columbia College, now Columbia University. He donated land from his family estate for the foundation of the General Theological Seminary, where he was a professor of Biblical learning and compiled a two-volume...

, although the claim has also been made that it was written by Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston, Jr. may have written the poem known as "A Visit from St. Nicholas", although more popularly as "The Night Before Christmas", which is generally attributed to Clement Clarke Moore....



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
Santa Claus
Santa Claus is a folklore figure in various cultures who distributes gifts to children, normally on Christmas Eve. Each name is a variation of Saint Nicholas, but refers to 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.
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Encyclopedia
"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
Clement Clarke Moore
Clement Clarke Moore was an American professor of Oriental and Greek literature at Columbia College, now Columbia University. He donated land from his family estate for the foundation of the General Theological Seminary, where he was a professor of Biblical learning and compiled a two-volume...

, although the claim has also been made that it was written by Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston, Jr. may have written the poem known as "A Visit from St. Nicholas", although more popularly as "The Night Before Christmas", which is generally attributed to Clement Clarke Moore....



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
Santa Claus
Santa Claus is a folklore figure in various cultures who distributes gifts to children, normally on Christmas Eve. Each name is a variation of Saint Nicholas, but refers to 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
English-speaking world
The English-speaking world consists of those countries or regions that use the English language to one degree or another. For more information, please see:Lists:* List of countries by English-speaking population...

 and beyond.

Plot


On Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve refers to the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, a widely celebrated festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth that takes place on December 25...

 night, while his wife and children sleep, a man awakens to noises outside his house. Looking out the window, he sees St. Nicholas in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer
Reindeer
The reindeer , also known as the caribou in North America, is a deer from the Arctic and Subarctic, including both resident and migratory populations. While overall widespread and numerous, some of its subspecies are rare and one has already gone extinct.Reindeer vary considerably in color and size...

. After flying on to the roof, the saint enters the house through the chimney, carrying a sack of toys with him. The man watches Nicholas filling the children's stockings
Christmas stocking
A Christmas stocking is an empty sock or sock-shaped bag that children hang on Christmas Eve so that Santa Claus can fill it with small toys, candy, fruit, coins or other small gifts when he arrives. These small items are often referred to as stocking stuffers or stocking fillers...

 hanging by the fire, and laughs to himself. They share a conspiratorial moment before the saint bounds up the chimney again. As he flies away, Nicholas wishes everyone a happy Christmas.

Literary history


According to legend, A Visit was composed by Moore on a snowy winter's day during a shopping trip on a sleigh. His inspiration for the character of Saint Nicholas was a local Dutch handyman as well as the historical Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas , also called Nikolaos of Myra, was a historic 4th-century saint and Greek Bishop of Myra . Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker...

. While Moore originated many of the features that are still associated with Santa Claus today, he borrowed other aspects such as the names of the reindeer. The poem was first published anonymously in the Troy, New York
Troy, New York
Troy is a city in the US State of New York and the seat of Rensselaer County. Troy is located on the western edge of Rensselaer County and on the eastern bank of the Hudson River. Troy has close ties to the nearby cities of Albany and Schenectady, forming a region popularly called the Capital...

, Sentinel on December 23, 1823, having been sent there by a friend of Clement Clarke Moore
Clement Clarke Moore
Clement Clarke Moore was an American professor of Oriental and Greek literature at Columbia College, now Columbia University. He donated land from his family estate for the foundation of the General Theological Seminary, where he was a professor of Biblical learning and compiled a two-volume...

, and was reprinted frequently thereafter with no name attached. Only later did Moore acknowledge his authorship, and the poem was included in an 1844 anthology
Anthology
An anthology is a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler. It may be a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts...

 of his works. Moore had written it for his children, and being a scholar and professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

, did not wish at first to be connected with the poem, but his children insisted that it be included in the anthology.

Moore's conception of St. Nicholas was borrowed from his friend Washington Irving
Washington Irving
Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

's (see below), but Moore portrayed his "jolly old elf" as arriving on Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve refers to the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, a widely celebrated festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth that takes place on December 25...

 rather than Christmas Day. At the time Moore wrote the poem, Christmas Day was overtaking New Year's Day
New Year's Day
New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome...

 as the preferred genteel family holiday of the season, but some Protestants - who saw Christmas as the result of "Catholic
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 ignorance and deception" - still had reservations. By having St. Nicholas arrive the night before, Moore "deftly shifted the focus away from Christmas Day with its still-problematic religious associations". As a result, "New Yorkers embraced Moore's child-centered version of Christmas as if they had been doing it all their lives".

In An American Anthology, 1787–1900, editor Edmund Clarence Stedman
Edmund Clarence Stedman
Edmund Clarence Stedman , American poet, critic, and essayist was born at Hartford, Connecticut, United States.-Biography:...

 reprinted the Moore version of the poem, including the German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 spelling of "Donder and Blitzen" he adopted, rather than the earlier Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 version from 1823, "Dunder and Blixem". Both phrases translate as "Thunder
Thunder
Thunder is the sound made by lightning. Depending on the nature of the lightning and distance of the listener, thunder can range from a sharp, loud crack to a long, low rumble . The sudden increase in pressure and temperature from lightning produces rapid expansion of the air surrounding and within...

 and Lightning
Lightning
Lightning is an atmospheric electrostatic discharge accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms...

" in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, though the German word for thunder is "Donner", and the words in modern Dutch would be "Donder en Bliksem".

Modern printings frequently incorporate alterations that reflect changing linguistic and cultural sensibilities: For example, breast in "The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow" is frequently bowdlerized to crest, the archaic ere in "But I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight" is frequently replaced with as, and "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night" is frequently rendered with the modern North American locution "'Merry Christmas'" and with "goodnight" as a single word.

Original copies


Four hand-written copies of the poem are known to exist, and three are in museums. The fourth copy, written out and signed by Clement Clarke Moore as a gift to a friend in 1860, was sold by one private collector to another in December, 2006. According to Dallas
Dallas, Texas
Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

-based Heritage Auction Galleries, which brokered the private sale, it was purchased for $280,000 U.S. by an unnamed "chief executive officer of a media company" who resides in Manhattan, New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

.

Authorship controversy


Moore's connection with the poem has been questioned by Professor Donald Foster, an expert on textual content analysis
Content analysis
Content analysis or textual analysis is a methodology in the social sciences for studying the content of communication. Earl Babbie defines it as "the study of recorded human communications, such as books, websites, paintings and laws."According to Dr...

, who used external and internal evidence to argue that Moore could not have been the author. Major Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston, Jr. may have written the poem known as "A Visit from St. Nicholas", although more popularly as "The Night Before Christmas", which is generally attributed to Clement Clarke Moore....

, a New Yorker
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 with Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 and Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 roots, is considered the chief candidate for authorship, if Moore did not write it. Livingston was distantly related to Moore's wife.

Evidence in favor of Moore


Moore is credited by his friend Charles Hoffman as author in the December 25, 1837, Pennsylvania Inquirer and Daily Courier. Further, the Rev. David Butler, who allegedly showed the poem to Sentinel editor Orville L. Holley
Orville L. Holley
Orville Luther Holley was an American writer, newspaper editor, historian and politician.-Life:...

, was a relative of Moore's. A letter to Moore from the publisher states "I understand from Mr. Holley that he received it from Mrs. Sackett, the wife of Mr. Daniel Sackett who was then a merchant in this city". Moore allowed the poem to be included in his anthology in 1844, at the request of his children. Moore preferred to be known for more scholarly works.

Evidence in favor of Livingston


Moore "tried at first to disavow" the poem. He claimed that only two changes were introduced in the first printing, yet it differs from his own on 23 points. It is also said that Moore falsely claimed to have translated a book. Document historian Seth Kaller has challenged this claim as a misinterpretation of a book dedication. According to Kaller, Moore signed the translation as a gift to the New-York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society is an American history museum and library located in New York City at the corner of 77th Street and Central Park West in Manhattan. Founded in 1804 as New York's first museum, the New-York Historical Society presents exhibitions, public programs and research that...

, as one might dedicate a book they give to another person, but did not claim authorship. (That Kaller owned one of the four copies that Moore copied late in his life -- including the misspelling of some of the reindeer names -- may have colored his judgment.)

The following points have been advanced in order to credit the poem to Major Henry Livingston, Jr:

Livingston also wrote poetry primarily using an anapaest
Anapaest
An anapaest is a metrical foot used in formal poetry. In classical quantitative meters it consists of two short syllables followed by a long one; in accentual stress meters it consists of two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable. It may be seen as a reversed dactyl...

ic metrical
Metre
The metre , symbol m, is the base unit of length in the International System of Units . Originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the distance from the Earth's equator to the North Pole , its definition has been periodically refined to reflect growing knowledge of metrology...

 scheme, and it is claimed that some of the phraseology
Phraseology
In linguistics, phraseology is the study of set or fixed expressions, such as idioms, phrasal verbs, and other types of multi-word lexical units , in which the component parts of the expression take on a meaning more specific than or otherwise not predictable from the sum of their meanings when...

 of A Visit is consistent with other poems by Livingston, and that Livingston's poetry is more optimistic than Moore's poetry published in his own name. But Stephen Nissenbaum argues, in his Battle for Christmas, that the poem could have been a social satire
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 of the Victorianization
Victorian America
The Victorian Era is a name for the period from 1837 to 1901, the length of the rule of Britain's Queen Victoria. American Victorianism was an offshoot of this period and lifestyle that occurred in the United States, chiefly in heavily populated regions such as New England and the Deep South...

 of Christmas. Furthermore, Kaller claims that Foster cherry-picked only the poems that fit his thesis and that many of Moore's unpublished works have a tenor, phraseology and meter similar to A Visit. Moore had even written a letter entitled "From Saint Nicholas" that may have predated 1823. But Moore was adamantly against smoking and yet the poem introduces the idea of Saint Nicholas smoking a pipe.
Foster also asserts that Livingston's mother was Dutch, which accounts for the references to the Dutch Sinteklaes
Sinterklaas
Sinterklaas is a traditional Winter holiday figure still celebrated today in the Low Countries, including the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as French Flanders and Artois...

 tradition and the use of the Dutch names "Dunder and Blixem". Against this claim, it is suggested by Kaller that Moore, a friend of writer Washington Irving
Washington Irving
Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

 and member of the same literary society, may have acquired some of his knowledge of New York Dutch traditions from Irving. Irving had written A History of New York in 1809 under the name of "Dietrich Knickerbocker". It includes several references to legends of St. Nicholas, including the following that bears a close relationship to the poem:

In popular culture


The very well known poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas", has inspired many parodies
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

, adaptations and references in popular culture.

Comics

  • In the Garfield
    Garfield
    Garfield is a comic strip created by Jim Davis. Published since June 19, 1978, it chronicles the life of the title character, the cat Garfield ; his owner, Jon Arbuckle; and Arbuckle's dog, Odie...

     comic strips published during the week of December 19–24, 1983, the text of the poem was drawn above scenes of Garfield acting out the part of the narrator.
  • Currently (December 13–25, 2010), Over the Hedge
    Over the Hedge
    Over the Hedge is a syndicated comic strip written and drawn by Michael Fry and T. Lewis. It tells the story of a raccoon, turtle, a squirrel, and their friends who come to terms with their woodlands being taken over by suburbia, trying to survive the increasing flow of humanity and technology...

     is covering the poem in a story arc, in which Verne tries to read it to Hammy and R.J. but keeps getting interrupted by their silly comments.
  • Issue 40 of the DC comic book, Young Justice
    Young Justice
    Young Justice is a fictional DC Comics superhero team consisting of teenaged heroes. The team first appeared in Young Justice: The Secret , before graduating to their ongoing monthly series...

     (2001), is a full-length parody of the poem. Unusually for a comic book, it features no panels or word balloon, only full-page illustrations accompanied by rhyming text. In the story, Santa sacrifices his life to save the world from a vengeful alien villain (though it's implied he'll be reborn next Christmas) and the teen heroes are stuck with the task of delivering all his gifts.

Films

  • In the movie Die Hard
    Die Hard
    Die Hard is a 1988 American action film and the first in the Die Hard film series. The film was directed by John McTiernan and written by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza. It is based on a 1979 novel by Roderick Thorp titled Nothing Lasts Forever, itself a sequel to the book The Detective, which...

    , Theo alerts his friends to the SWAT
    SWAT
    A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers...

     team's arrival with the opening line of this poem.
  • In National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
    National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
    Christmas Vacation is a 1989 Christmas comedy film directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik. It is the third installment in National Lampoon's Vacation film series, and was written by John Hughes, based on his short story in National Lampoon Magazine, Christmas ‘59...

    , Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) reads the story to his extended family, but changes the narrative when he looks out the window and sees Cousin Eddie and Eddie's kidnapped hostage (Clark's boss) approaching the house. Instead of describing the "miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer", Clark describes the strange event taking place in his front yard.
  • The 1905 short silent film
    Silent film
    A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound, especially with no spoken dialogue. In silent films for entertainment the dialogue is transmitted through muted gestures, pantomime and title cards...

    , The Night Before Christmas
    The Night Before Christmas (1905 film)
    The Night Before Christmas is a 1905 American silent short film directed by Edwin S. Porter for the Edison Manufacturing Company. It closely follows Clement Clarke Moore's 1823 poem Twas the Night Before Christmas, and was the first film production of the poem.-Plot summary:Scenes are introduced...

    , was the first production of the poem on film.
  • Tim Burton
    Tim Burton
    Timothy William "Tim" Burton is an American film director, film producer, writer and artist. He is famous for dark, quirky-themed movies such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet...

    's 1993 stop motion film, The Nightmare Before Christmas
    The Nightmare Before Christmas
    The Nightmare Before Christmas, often promoted as Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, is a 1993 stop motion musical fantasy film directed by Henry Selick and produced/co-written by Tim Burton. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, a being from "Halloween Town" who opens a portal to...

    , parodies the poem's first line.
  • In John Pasquin
    John Pasquin
    John Pasquin is a American director of film, television and theatre.-Career:An alum of Beloit College and Carnegie Mellon University, Pasquin began directing Broadway theatre plays in the early 1980s. He moved on to television directing episodes of the series Family Ties, Growing Pains, Alice,...

    's 1994 film The Santa Clause
    The Santa Clause
    The Santa Clause is a 1994 American fantasy-dramedy film directed by John Pasquin, it is distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. and starring Tim Allen. In the film, Allen plays Scott Calvin, an ordinary man who accidentally causes Santa Claus to fall from his roof on Christmas Eve...

    , a glimpse can be seen of the ladder brand Santa uses: A ROSE SUCHAK LADDER ("... there arose such a clatter ...").

Literature

  • The children's book, The Cajun Night Before Christmas, offers a Cajun
    Cajun
    Cajuns are an ethnic group mainly living in the U.S. state of Louisiana, consisting of the descendants of Acadian exiles...

     version of the classic tale, written in Cajun dialect and changing the scene to a Louisiana
    Louisiana
    Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

     swamp
    Swamp
    A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

     and the saint's vehicle to a skiff
    Skiff
    The term skiff is used for a number of essentially unrelated styles of small boat. The word is related to ship and has a complicated etymology: "skiff" comes from the Middle English skif, which derives from the Old French esquif, which in turn derives from the Old Italian schifo, which is itself of...

     pulled by alligator
    Alligator
    An alligator is a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. There are two extant alligator species: the American alligator and the Chinese alligator ....

    s.
  • A "Canonical List of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Variations" contains nearly one thousand versions of the classic poem.
  • In 1986 Lance Corporal
    Lance Corporal
    Lance corporal is a military rank, used by many armed forces worldwide, and also by some police forces and other uniformed organizations. It is below the rank of corporal, and is typically the lowest non-commissioned officer, usually equivalent to the NATO Rank Grade OR-3.- Etymology :The presumed...

     James M. Schmidt penned "Merry Christmas, My friend. A Marine's version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'".
  • James Thurber
    James Thurber
    James Grover Thurber was an American author, cartoonist and celebrated wit. Thurber was best known for his cartoons and short stories published in The New Yorker magazine.-Life:...

    ’s parody, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas IN THE ERNEST HEMINGWAY MANNER,” which originally appeared in the December 24, 1927 issue of The New Yorker
    The New Yorker
    The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

    .

Music and spoken word

  • In 1953, Perry Como
    Perry Como
    Pierino Ronald "Perry" Como was an American singer and television personality. During a career spanning more than half a century he recorded exclusively for the RCA Victor label after signing with them in 1943. "Mr...

     recorded a reading of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas". Its original release was on the Around the Christmas Tree LPM-3133.
  • The nu metal
    Nu metal
    Nu metal is a subgenre of heavy metal. It is a fusion genre which combines elements of heavy metal with other genres, including grunge and hip hop...

     band Korn
    Korn
    Korn is an American nu metal band from Bakersfield, California, formed in 1993. The current band line up includes four members: Jonathan Davis, James "Munky" Shaffer, Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu, and Ray Luzier. The band was formed as an expansion of L.A.P.D.The band released their first demo album,...

     released a limited edition promotional 12-inch single
    12-inch single
    The 12-inch single is a type of gramophone record that has wider groove spacing compared to other types of records. This allows for louder levels to be cut on the disc by the cutting engineer, which in turn gives a wider dynamic range, and thus better sound quality...

     single in 1993, which featured two versions of their "A Visit from St. Nicholas" parody: "Christmas Song (Squeak by the FCC version)" and "Christmas Song (Blatant FCC Violation version)".
  • The poem was set to music by Ken Darby
    Ken Darby
    Kenneth Lorin Darby was an American composer, vocal arranger, lyricist, and conductor. His film scores were recognized with three Academy Awards and one Grammy Award.- Personal life :...

     and recorded by Fred Waring
    Fred Waring
    Fredrick Malcolm Waring was a popular musician, bandleader and radio-television personality, sometimes referred to as "America's Singing Master" and "The Man Who Taught America How to Sing." He was also a promoter, financial backer and namesake of the Waring Blendor, the first modern electric...

     and the Pennsylvanians in 1942 in an arrangement by Harry Simeone
    Harry Simeone
    Harry Moses Simeone was a distinguished music arranger, conductor and composer, best known for arranging the famous Christmas song "The Little Drummer Boy", for which he received co-writing credit.-Early years:Harry grew up listening to stars performing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City,...

    .
  • Dave Seville recorded the poem for the 1963 album Christmas with The Chipmunks, Vol. 2
    Christmas with The Chipmunks, Vol. 2
    Christmas with The Chipmunks, Vol. 2 is a Christmas music album by Alvin and the Chipmunks, released in 1963, and contains 12 tracks. The tracks in this and its predecessor—Christmas with The Chipmunks—have been in continuous circulation since their original releases...

    .
  • Actor Jack Palance
    Jack Palance
    Jack Palance , was an American actor. During half a century of film and television appearances, Palance was nominated for three Academy Awards, all as Best Actor in a Supporting Role, winning in 1991 for his role in City Slickers.-Early life:Palance, one of five children, was born Volodymyr...

     narrates the poem on Laurie Z
    Laurie Z
    Laurie Zeluck Carter was an American pianist and electronic musician who recorded under the name Laurie Z. Her music is described as a blend of classical, jazz and contemporary instrumental.-Discography:Laurie Z...

    's 2001 recording, Heart of the Holidays.
  • Under the title of A Visit From St. Nick, the poem was set for Speaker & Orchestra by Robert Lichtenberger in 1987. It was commissioned for and premiered by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
    Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
    The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is a professional American symphony orchestra based in Baltimore, Maryland.In September 2007, Maestra Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the Orchestra’s twelfth music director, making her the first woman to head a major American orchestra.The BSO Board...

     conducted by Edward Polochick, and repeated by the BSO on a number of subsequent Christmas holiday concerts. The work has also been performed by the National Symphony Orchestra
    National Symphony Orchestra
    The National Symphony Orchestra , founded in 1931, is an American symphony orchestra that performs at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.-History:...

     of Washington, DC, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
    Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
    The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra is a pops orchestra based in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, founded in 1977 out of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Its members are also the members of the Cincinnati Symphony, and the Pops is managed by the same administration...

     conducted by the late Erich Kunzel
    Erich Kunzel
    Erich Kunzel, Jr. was an American orchestra conductor. Called the "Prince of Pops" by the Chicago Tribune, he performed with a number of leading pops and symphony orchestras, especially the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra , which he led for over 44 years.-Early life and career:Kunzel was born to...

    , the Maryland Symphony Orchestra
    Maryland Symphony Orchestra
    The Maryland Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1982 by a small group of Washington County, Maryland civic leaders and music lovers. From its beginnings through the conclusion of its sixteenth season in 1997 - 1998, artistic leadership was provided by internationally acclaimed horn vituoso Barry...

     conducted by Elizabeth Schulze as well as other ensembles in the USA. Narrators have included then-mayor-of-Baltimore Kurt Schmoke
    Kurt Schmoke
    Kurt Lidell Schmoke is the Dean of the Howard University School of Law and a former mayor of Baltimore, Maryland. The son of Murray and Irene B. Reid , he attended the public schools of Baltimore...

    , actor George Clooney
    George Clooney
    George Timothy Clooney is an American actor, film director, producer, and screenwriter. For his work as an actor, he has received two Golden Globe Awards and an Academy Award...

     and actress Pat Carroll
    Pat Carroll
    Pat Carroll may refer to:*Pat Carroll *Pat Carroll *Pat Carroll *Pat Carroll *Pat Carroll *Pat Carroll...

    .
  • The poem was set to music by Aaron Dai in 2006 as The Night Before Christmas
    The Night Before Christmas (Dai)
    The Night Before Christmas is an orchestral work written by the American composer Aaron Dai in 2006. The work is performed by a full orchestra and a narrator reading Clement Clarke Moore's poem "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."-History:...

    . It has been performed by The Chelsea Symphony
    The Chelsea Symphony
    The Chelsea Symphony is an orchestra noted for its uniquely fluid hierarchy. Based in New York City, The Chelsea Symphony's members rotate as the ensemble’s own conductors, composers, and soloists...

     and noteworthy narrators such as Richard Kind
    Richard Kind
    Richard John Kind is an American actor known for his roles in the sitcoms Mad About You and Spin City .- Early life :...

    , Ana Gasteyer
    Ana Gasteyer
    Ana Kristina Gasteyer is an American actress of stage, film, and television. She is best known for her comedic roles when she was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1996 to 2002.-Early life:...

    , and David Hyde Pierce
    David Hyde Pierce
    David Hyde Pierce is an American actor and comedian best known for playing psychiatrist Dr. Niles Crane on the NBC sitcom Frasier, for which he received many accolades including four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.-Early life:Pierce, the youngest of four siblings,...

    .
  • A Pokémon
    Pokémon
    is a media franchise published and owned by the video game company Nintendo and created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1996. Originally released as a pair of interlinkable Game Boy role-playing video games developed by Game Freak, Pokémon has since become the second most successful and lucrative video...

     version of this poem is included on the soundtrack CD album of Pokémon-themed Christmas songs entitled, Pokémon Christmas Bash.
  • In a 1939 recording included in the Nimbus Records
    Nimbus Records
    Nimbus Records is a British record company specializing in classical music recordings.Nimbus was founded in 1972 by the late bass singer Numa Labinsky and the brothers Michael and Gerald Reynolds and has traditionally been based at the Wyastone Leys mansion site, near Monmouth and the English/Welsh...

     collection Prima Voce: The Spirit of Christmas Past, actor Basil Rathbone
    Basil Rathbone
    Sir Basil Rathbone, KBE, MC, Kt was an English actor. He rose to prominence in England as a Shakespearean stage actor and went on to appear in over 70 films, primarily costume dramas, swashbucklers, and, occasionally, horror films...

     reads the poem.
  • The Bob Rivers
    Bob Rivers
    Bob Rivers is a well-known American rock and roll radio on air personality in the Pacific Northwest as well as a prolific producer of parody songs, most famous for his Christmas song parodies....

     comedy album Twisted Christmas
    Twisted Christmas
    Twisted Christmas is a humorous Christmas album recorded by Bob Rivers and his Comedy Corp. It is the first in a line of Christmas-themed parody albums from Rivers, with later entries including I Am Santa Claus, More Twisted Christmas, Chipmunks Roasting On an Open Fire, and White Trash...

     features the track "A Visit from St. Nicholson", a narration of a Christmas visit from Jack Nicholson
    Jack Nicholson
    John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times, and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the...

    .
  • In the Dave Van Ronk
    Dave Van Ronk
    Dave Van Ronk was an American folk singer, born in Brooklyn, New York, who settled in Greenwich Village, New York, and was eventually nicknamed the "Mayor of MacDougal Street" ....

     song "Yas Yas Yas", the poem is parodied in the verse "'Twas the night before Christmas, all was quiet in the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, when from the lawn there came a big crash. It was Father Christmas landing on his yas yas yas."
  • A new rock/pop musical adaptation was released in 2011 by the artist “JJ’s Tunes & Tales” on CD Baby and iTunes. The single features the singing of Juliet Lyons, and a rock band that includes both electric guitars and mandolins. This musical adaptation has singing and music throughout, with no spoken or rap lyric sections.

Radio and television

  • Episode 55 of Animaniacs
    Animaniacs
    Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs, usually referred to as simply Animaniacs, is an American animated series, distributed by Warner Bros. Television and produced by Amblin Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation. The cartoon was the second animated series produced by the collaboration of Steven...

     featured a skit
    Sketch comedy
    A sketch comedy consists of a series of short comedy scenes or vignettes, called "sketches," commonly between one and ten minutes long. Such sketches are performed by a group of comic actors or comedians, either on stage or through an audio and/or visual medium such as broadcasting...

     titled "The Day Before Christmas", in which Ralph the Guard is given the task of delivering Yakko, Wakko, and Dot
    Yakko, Wakko, and Dot
    Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner, also known as "The Warner Brothers " or "The Warner Siblings", or just simply "The Warners", are the three titular cartoon characters featured on the animated series Animaniacs. The trio of red-nosed Warner siblings were considered to be the stars of the ensemble of...

    's Christmas presents. The short is presented as a bedtime story
    Bedtime story
    A bedtime story is a traditional form of storytelling, where a story is told to a child at bedtime to prepare them for sleep.Bedtime stories have many advantages, for parents/adults and children alike. The fixed routine of a bedtime story before sleeping has a relaxing effect, and the soothing...

     told by Slappy Squirrel to her nephew Skippy, and is narrated in the poetic form as the original story. This cartoon was adapted into comic book form in a special comic book published by DC Comics
    DC Comics
    DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

     in October 1994.
  • Some holiday airings of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy
    Edgar Bergen
    Edgar John Bergen was an American actor and radio performer, best known as a ventriloquist.-Early life:...

     had Charlie McCarthy trying to recite the poem from memory, resulting in such lines as "The stockings were hung by the chimney with care/In hopes that the laundryman soon would be there" (a few times the line went "In hopes that the room could stand some fresh air"), "He flies through the air with the greatest of ease/The jolly old elf in the red BVD
    BVD
    BVD is a brand of men's underwear, which are commonly referred to as "BVDs." BVD stands for Bradley, Voorhees & Day, the New York City firm that initially manufactured underwear of this name for both men and women. BVD is now only for men. It was founded in 1876 and named for its three founders.-...

    's", and "Now, Dasher, Now, Dancer, and what do you know/Dasher and Dancer paid $220 to show!"
  • The song with the poem as its basis as stated above, arranged by Harry Simeone and music by Ken Darby, was performed at holiday airings of Fibber McGee and Molly
    Fibber McGee and Molly
    Fibber McGee and Molly was an American radio comedy series which maintained its popularity over decades. It premiered on NBC in 1935 and continued until its demise in 1959, long after radio had ceased to be the dominant form of entertainment in American popular culture.-Husband and wife in real...

    , usually introduced by Teeny, the neighbor girl, as their "Christmas Carol".
  • At the beginning of Friends (TV series) episode 9, "The One with Christmas in Tulsa", Phoebe
    Phoebe Buffay
    Phoebe Buffay-Hannigan is a fictional character on the U.S. television sitcom Friends , portrayed by Lisa Kudrow...

     sings the last four lines of The Night Before Christmas and Joey claims she wrote it.
  • In A Muppet Family Christmas
    A Muppet Family Christmas
    A Muppet Family Christmas is a 1987 Christmas television special starring Jim Henson's Muppets.This is one of the very few Muppet productions to feature Muppets associated with all four of the major Muppet franchises: The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and Muppet Babies...

    , the Sesame Street Muppets perform a play based on the poem, with Ernie
    Ernie
    Ernie is a fictional character, a Muppet on the Public Broadcasting Service's long-running children's television show, Sesame Street. He and his roommate Bert form a comic duo that is one of the program's centerpieces, with Ernie acting the role of the naïve troublemaker and Bert the world-weary foil...

     narrating as the father (the main character) and Bert as Mamma (he lost a coin toss). The monsters appear as the reindeer
    Reindeer
    The reindeer , also known as the caribou in North America, is a deer from the Arctic and Subarctic, including both resident and migratory populations. While overall widespread and numerous, some of its subspecies are rare and one has already gone extinct.Reindeer vary considerably in color and size...

    , with the Two-Headed Monster as Santa (and Grover
    Grover
    Grover is a Muppet character on the popular television show Sesame Street. Self-described as lovable, cute and furry, he is a monster who almost never uses contractions when speaking or singing....

     as the mouse who is not stirring, literally). The narration omits the line "The children were nestled, all snug in their bed(s)/While visions of sugar plum
    Sugar plum
    A sugar plum is a piece of dragée candy that is made of dried fruits and shaped in a small round or oval shape."Plum" in the name of this confection does not mean plum in the sense of the fruit of the same name. At one time, "plum" was used to denote any dried fruit...

    s danced in their heads", because the line was just extra information that wasn't central to the skit's production.
  • A hip-hop animated version of the poem was made as an hour long animated special, The Night B4 Christmas.
  • Bell Telephone Company
    Bell Telephone Company
    The Bell Telephone Company, a common law joint stock company, was organized in Boston, Massachusetts on July 9, 1877 by Alexander Graham Bell's father-in-law Gardiner Greene Hubbard, who also helped organize a sister company — the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company...

     sponsored a short film circa 1950 entitled The Spirit of Christmas
    The Spirit of Christmas (TV program)
    The Spirit of Christmas is a Christmas television special performed by marionettes. It was first aired in 1950. Its half-hour showing time is divided into two segments, one dramatizing "A Visit from St. Nicholas" and one telling the story of the Nativity. The film is narrated by Alexander...

    , featuring the Les and Mabel Beaton marionettes. Within a few years, it became a holiday perennial in many TV markets, especially in the Philadelphia area.
  • In the 1961, Bell Telephone Hour television program A Trip to Christmas, a version of the poem is performed offscreen by hostess Jane Wyatt
    Jane Wyatt
    Jane Waddington Wyatt was an American actress perhaps best known for her role as the housewife and mother on the television comedy Father Knows Best, and as Amanda Grayson, the human mother of Spock on the science fiction television series Star Trek...

     and a chorus, and enacted onscreen by the Bil Baird
    Bil Baird
    William Britton Baird , professional name Bil Baird, but often referred to as Bill Baird, was an American puppeteer of the mid- and late 20th century.One of his better known creations was Charlemane the lion...

     Marionettes.
  • In the animated TV special by Rankin/Bass
    Rankin/Bass
    Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc. , also known as Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment, was an American production company, known for its seasonal television specials, particularly its work in stop-motion animation. The pre-1974 library is currently owned by Classic Media,while the post-1974 library is...

     (1974), titled "Twas the Night Before Christmas", the characters and portions of the plot are loosely based on the poem.
  • In the Barney and the Backyard Gang
    Barney and the Backyard Gang
    Barney and the Backyard Gang is a direct-to-video series produced by The Lyons Group and was produced from October 13, 1988 to October 20, 1991. This series launched the stardom of the PBS television show Barney & Friends....

    special, "Waiting for Santa
    Waiting for Santa
    "Waiting for Santa" was the first Barney and the Backyard Gang Christmas Eve special. Released on video in 1990, it features an array of traditional Christmas songs.-Plot:...

    ", Barney reads the story to Michael and Amy, whom he has befriended, while Santa himself is in the living room of the house doing his usual work. He falls asleep just as he comes to "With a little old driver, so lively and quick/I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick". Santa whispers the last quotation to the camera after that.

Other

  • "The Night Before Doom", which appears in the Official DOOM F.A.Q., is a poem centered on the computer game Doom.
  • For Christmas 1985, the Internet Engineering Task Force
    Internet Engineering Task Force
    The Internet Engineering Task Force develops and promotes Internet standards, cooperating closely with the W3C and ISO/IEC standards bodies and dealing in particular with standards of the TCP/IP and Internet protocol suite...

     circulated an RFC document
    Request for Comments
    In computer network engineering, a Request for Comments is a memorandum published by the Internet Engineering Task Force describing methods, behaviors, research, or innovations applicable to the working of the Internet and Internet-connected systems.Through the Internet Society, engineers and...

     that was actually a poem about the early days of the Internet, titled "Twas the Night Before Start-up".

External links