Literature: Twas The Night Before Christmas

An 1823 poem by Clement Clarke Moore about a visit from St. Nick. Originally titled and also known as "A Visit from St. Nicholas".

Here it is as read by none other than the trumpet master Louis Armstrong, himself.

The poem contains the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The poem crystallizes a number of ideas about St. Nicholas first found in Washington Irving's Knickerbocker History of New York.
  • Big Fun: St. Nicholas has "a broad face, and a little round belly / That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly."
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
    • "On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!" Only it isn't—the original poem retained the Dutch names Donder and Blixen, as was suitable to the old Dutch settlers of New York who introduced Santa Claus to America. Later re-printings Retconned the names into their more familiar German forms. However, albeit this was most likely unintentional, the name "Donner" still could retain some significance depending on how you look at it; in French, the verb "donner" means "to give," which is quite faithful to the spirit of Christmas, indeed.
    • The phrase "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
  • Christmas Elves: St Nick himself is described as an 'elf' here, making this debatably the Ur-Example.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Played with. "The moon on the crest of the newfallen snow / Gave a lustre of midday to objects below."
  • Santa Claus: You were expecting maybe the Easter Bunny?
  • Smoking Is Cool: "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth / And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath." Of course, modern depictions of Santa don't usually smoke.
  • Trope Codifier: As stated above, this little poem etched in stone a lot of the core image we have of Santa Claus.