Over about 25 years in the 19th century, three events helped create the Christmas holiday celebration we know today. One was Charles Dickens and his series of Christmas stories, beginning with A Christmas Carol. Second was Queen Victoria’s embrace of the Christmas tree as a holiday tradition. But before both of those, and across the Atlantic, was a poem.
Clement Moore, the son of a clergyman and soon to become a professor at a theological seminary, wrote a poem for his children in 1822. And he recited it to them. Word spread, and the following year “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was published in a newspaper. We know better by its first line, “’Twas the night before Christmas.” The poem became widely known and included in anthologies, volumes of poetry, holiday publications, and newspaper articles. Various versions of the poem have been produced over the years; one popular one for those of us born and raised in New Orleans and south Louisiana is The Cajun Night Before Christmas, which I can still be compelled to read aloud by my family, complete with Cajun accent, which I don’t have but can imitate fairly well (I will admit to being one fourth Cajun from a genetic perspective).
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.