Archive for the ‘‘Twas the Month Before Christmas’ Category

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

December 24, 2009

Here’s a fun little video featuring voice over actors and celebrities reading the classic Christmas story, The Night Before Christmas with a few fun little twists here and there.  Among the many voices are Jim Cummings (who replaced Sterling Holloway as the voice of Winnie the Pooh, and later took over as the voice of Tigger following Paul Winchell’s retirement), Tom Kenny (SpongeBob), radio & TV personality Gary Owens, and voiceover master Don LaFontaine (you’ll recognize him when you hear him).  For fun, try listening to it without watching.

For younger children who are less familiar with the story, start with this version which is a faithful retelling of the original poem by Clement C. Moore with some nicely done animation and a brief introduction.  The entire story is narrated by two moms who dedicate the video to their children.

Notes about the Author and the Poem

Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, which he named "A Visit From St. Nicholas," was published for the first time on December 23, 1823 by a New York newspaper, the Sentinel.  Since then, the poem has been reprinted, translated into innumerable languages and circulated throughout the world. 

Clement Clarke Moore (1779 – 1863) was born into a well-known New York family.  His father, Reverend Benjamin Moore, was president of (what is now) Columbia University and was the Episcopal Bishop of New York.  Moore’s father also officiated at the inauguration of George Washington’s first inauguration and gave last rites to Alexander Hamilton after Hamilton was mortally wounded in his 1804 duel with Aaron Burr.  Clement C. Moore himself was an author, a noted Hebrew scholar, spoke five languages, and was an early real-estate owner and developer in Manhattan.

Despite his accomplishments, Clement C. Moore is remembered only for "’Twas the Night Before Christmas," which legend says he wrote on Christmas Eve in 1822 during a sleigh ride home from Greenwich Village after buying a turkey for his family.  Some say the inspiration for Moore’s pot-bellied St. Nicholas was the chubby, bewhiskered Dutchman who drove Moore to Greenwich Village to buy his holiday turkey.

Moore read the poem to his wife and six children the night he wrote it, and supposedly thought no more about it.  But it is believed that a family friend, Miss H. Butler, sent a copy of the poem to the New York Sentinel which published the poem.  The condition of publication was that the author was to remain anonymous.  Moore’s poem immediately caught the attention and imagination of the state, then the nation, and then the world.  Moore never copyrighted his poem, and only claimed as his own in 1844 when he included it in a book of his poetry.

Because of his "mere trifle," as he called it, 187 years ago Clement C. Moore almost single-handedly defined our now timeless image of Santa Claus.  Prior to the creation of the story St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, had never been associated with a sleigh or reindeers!  The tradition of reading the poem on Christmas Eve is now a Worldwide institution.

Moore’s eight reindeer names refer to their individual character, mission, or magical flying prowess:

  • · Dasher (hurls or thrusts with great force)

  • · Dancer (moves with skill, grace, rhythm)

  • · Prancer (springs forward on hind legs, struts with spirit and confidence)

  • · Vixen (alert and fiercely protective, guards against all possible dangers)

  • · Comet (a powerful and fiery rock hurtling through the heavens, a celestial wonder)

  • · Cupid (symbolic of love, referring to just how admirable Santa’s mission is to remind the world each year of the joy and Love Christmas brings)

  • · Donner (or Donder) and Blitzen evolved from the original Dutch words “Dunder” (thunder) and “Blixem” (lightning)

Rudolph was later revealed as the ninth reindeer in Santa’s stable in Robert L. May’s 1939 booklet for Montgomery Ward Department Stores. May’s booklet was adapted by Johnny Marks into a song by the same name made famous in 1949 by Gene Autry. The tale tells of Santa’s lead reindeer who possesses an unusually red-colored nose that gives off its own light, powerful enough to illuminate the team’s path through even the most inclement weather.

Children ‘round the world can rest assured that together, these famous reindeer eagerly exercise their God-given talents to guarantee Santa’s arrival to all points on the globe each and every Christmas Eve.

Notes: 

  • Some scholars now believe the poem was actually written by Major Henry Livingston, Jr.  Whatever the authorship controversy ultimately determines, this work has become a Christmas favorite.
  • What is a "courser?"  A swift horse; a charger. 
  • Sash – A frame in which the panes of a window or door are set.