“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St.Nicholas soon would be there”…
The more we read it the more we love the lines.

An evening in winter…children…the elders by the fire side…one of them is reading out “Twas the night before Christmas…” or “A visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clark Moore…This evening is the evening before Christmas. One can hear the giggles of the children outside…the shopkeepers are too busy to meet their demands…the world never appears as beautiful as it is today. Everybody seems innocent in the land of Christ.

It is a very popular tradition of American families to read the poem by Clement Moore on every Christmas Eve. This is the poem from where we get a refined picture of Christmas and Santa Claus. Moore changed the image of Santa Claus. Prior to the publication of the poem St. Nicholas was conceived as a lanky, stern Bishop who championed the cause of dispensing both gifts and discipline. The poem portrays Nicholas as a cheerful, rosy-cheeked elf who gives out gifts to the children. Christmas came to be known as the occasion of exchanging gifts.

Santa turned out to be the loving persona. The research on this issue reveals that Santa laughs “ho ho ho” unlike what the people actually do. He has got “a little round belly/ that shook when he laugh’d, like a bowlful of jelly”. Santa was never associated with reindeer in the past. Clement Moore changed the traditional notions in such a way that now it is difficult to distinguish between the original and the revised version. We not only believe in reindeer but also memorize their names- Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitz en.

Thus we get from the poem a new image of Santa, a whole lot of names of reindeer and the mood of the event a day before the actual one starts. The poem is so popular that we have different versions of it. Joyce Luke wrote ” Twas the week before Christmas and all through the school/ not a pupil was silent, no matter what rule. “Just like Moore’s poem this one also ends with “As she looked at the Christmas tree glistening and tall, / she smiled as she whispered, “Merry Christmas to All.” Moore’s poem has been widely used for parodies. The parodied version for the gamblers goes like this-

“Twas the night before Christmas, I hit the casino,
I went there to play, more than just Keno.”
It can have another version for love craft-
“Twas the night before Yuletide and all through the hole
Not a creature was stirring, not even a Dhole.”

People nowadays decorate their tables according to the details given on Christmas and Santa in the poem. The table should give the impression of a snowy landscape. White sheet is spread out on the table and thus we have snow at the center of it where Santa and reindeer will be placed. Christmas candies are sprinkled on the table to make it more realistic. It seems Moore’s lines have shaped both the ideas and activities concerning Christmas.

The night before Christmas is the day of setting up the Christmas tree, participating in the candlelight service early in the evening, attending Midnight Mass and enjoying the turkey or ham. Children will wait for their gifts even if the Puritans frown on the materialistic aspect of the event. While reading out the poem everybody thanks Moore for giving the hope of receiving gifts and meeting the jolly secular Santa.

Decorations done…the dinner was also wonderful…it’s time to say “good night”…but on 24th December we love to end our day with the last line of the poem “Twas the night before Christmas”,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good- night!”

By Sean Carter
Sean Carter writes on holidays, Christmas and world events. He also writes on family, relationships, Thanksgiving, religion, love and friendship. He is a writer with special interest in ecard industry and writes for 123greetings.com. He also writes blogs on Christmas Blogspot