An 1823 poem by Clement Clarke Moore about a visit from St. Nick. Originally titled and also known as "A Visit from St. Nicholas".
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."
- Bilingual Bonus: Santa's last pair of reindeer are named Donner and Blitzen, German for "thunder" and "lightning", respectively.
- Chariot Pulled by Cats: Santa Claus flies around on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, an image that has endured in the Santa Claus mythos.
- 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.
- Title Confusion: The poem was originally called A Visit from St. Nicholas, but its opening line is what everyone knows it by.
- Trope Codifier: As stated above, this little poem etched in stone a lot of the core image we have of Santa Claus.
- Unbuilt Trope: While most of the poem's depiction of Santa still matches the popular imagery, the idea of him as an "elf" with a "miniature sleigh" and "tiny reindeer" fell out of favor a long time ago.