The history of a Christmas tradition: "The Night Before Christmas"


The Night Before Christmas is one of the earliest classic American children’s stories. When Clement Clark Moore wrote it in 1822, he wrote it for his own six children and presented it to them as a Christmas gift.

His story was published anonymously for years until Sarah Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, discovered the author. In 1844, Moore’s name was officially attributed to the verse.

The poem has had a few changes since. The original title was “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” and now it’s known as “The Night Before Christmas.” The last line was originally “A Happy Christmas to all,” and modern versions read “Merry Christmas to all.”

Moore’s poem is considered largely responsible for many popular ideas of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today. The poem has had a major impact on the history of Christmas gift-giving.

Early editions and vintage and reproduction books of this Christmas classic—including a Golden Books edition—are currently available at HH Antiques, starting at $10.00.

Susan Snipes