The worst kept secret of all Christmas literature
Twasn't the Night Before Christmas
BY EMMIE BARNHILL DECEMBER 11 2014
The author of one of the most well known poems ever written never intended for the work to be published. “‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” According to The FW, over 200 years ago, a man named Clement Clarke Moore wrote those famous words for his family.
“A Visit from St. Nicholas”, more commonly known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” made its break because of a nosey neighbor, Miss H. Butler. According to The Poetry Foundation, the poem was submitted to The Troy Sentinel on Dec. 23, 1823 without a listed author.
At the time of publishing, Santa Clause was not a widely accepted part of the Christmas tradition. Prior to about 1820, the only chimneys that a large man in a red suit shimmied down belonged to Dutch settlers. Immediately a hit, the poem was adopted by many as a holiday tradition.
A number of Rose students did not know that this traditional Christmas poem was written without the intention of being published.
Freshman Ja’Hova Brown could recite the first few lines of the poem without a second guess, because he grew up hearing the famous lines each year. Brown was surprised to learn that something so well known was made popular without the author intending to do so.
“I didnt know it was never supposed to be published,” Ja’Hova Brown said.
Senior Rebekah Floyd was also baffled when she learned that Moore wrote “A Visit from St. Nicholas” exclusively for his family.
“Its awesome, how it got published,” Floyd said.
Attendance Office Manager Kim Cohen pondered what the holiday season would be like without the influence of Moore’s poem.
“If the poem had never been published, [Christmas] would probably be more religious,” Cohen said.
Cohen believes that a lot of the fluffy part of holiday tradition stems from the popularity of the poem; without Moore’s imagination there would be no cheers of “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
She spent many years with her family watching television programs and reading books that featured “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”
“I remember reading the poem with my cousins when I was young,” Cohen said.
Regardless of his intentions, Moore can be thanked for the modern day Christmas that many Rose students know. It took more than 20 years, but Moore finally claimed his work when he published it in his collection of poetry. Dancing sugar plums and flying reindeer can be credited to his poorly kept secret. Almost two centuries later, it is the most read, collected, published and memorized poem in all of Christmas literature.