Commentary: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ Helped Make the Modern Santa – and Led to a Literary Whodunit

close-up of Santa Claus suit

The poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” better known by its opening line “‘Twas the Night before Christmas,” has a special place among Christmas traditions, right alongside hot chocolate, caroling and bright lights. It has also inspired the modern image of Santa Claus as a jolly old man sporting red and a round belly.

But this poem has been steeped in controversy, and debate still looms over who the true author is. Traditionally, Clement C. Moore – a 19th-century scholar at the General Theological Seminary in New York, where I work as a reference librarian – has been credited with writing the poem in 1822 for his children. Every December, library staff shares our multiple copies of the poem in an exhibit to celebrate the holiday season.

No matter who wrote it, the poem is a fascinating object that has shaped Christmases past, present – and maybe yet to come.

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‘Naughty and Nice Retail List’ Takes Defense of Christmas Into Commercial Arena

Legal challenges to Christmas and holiday displays have been going on for decades. In order to combat the anti-Christmas sentiment outside of the courtroom, a nonprofit religious liberty organization is encouraging shoppers to do so with their wallets.

Liberty Counsel’s Naughty and Nice List classifies retailers according to whether they censor or celebrate Christmas — an allusion, of course, to Santa’s list of naughty and nice children from the Christmas standard “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”

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Government Shut Down Won’t Stop NORAD’s Santa Tracker

by Molly Prince   The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will continue its more than 60-year-old tradition of tracking Santa Claus as he leaves the North Pole to deliver presents across the world. The twitter account for NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command announced Friday that Santa will be…

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Santa Claus Spotted in Downtown Franklin on a Motorcycle

FRANKLIN, Tennessee — The Tennessee Star caught a glimpse of Santa Claus on a motorcycle in downtown Franklin Sunday afternoon. Accompanied by a green clad assistant riding behind, Santa drove his motorcycle down Main Street, stopping along the way to hand out candy canes to excited children shopping with their parents. Both Santa and…

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