On December 23, 1823, Clement C. Moore anonymously published his now-famous poem, "A Visit From Saint Nicholas." It has been republished thousands of times since then, and here are some fun facts.
The poem closes with: “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.” The first known appearance of “Merry Christmas” in the poem was in an 1862 edition published by James G. Gregory.
An 1837 edition, edited by Charles Fenno Hoffman, is notable for changing the spelling of two of the reindeer names from “Dunder and Blixem” to “Donder and Blixen.” When Clement Moore issued his own book of poems in 1844, he further altered “Blixen” to “Blitzen,” the spelling which is usually seen today.
The poem is largely believed to have changed some of the conceptions of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today. It has had a tremendous effect on the history of Christmas gift-giving. Before the poem gained popularity, American ideas varied considerably about Saint Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors due to the many different cultural beliefs that came to the Americas with immigrants.
Moore had a reputation as an erudite professor and originally published the poem anonymously because he didn't wish to be connected with the unscholarly verse. He later attached his name to it at the insistence of his children for whom he had written it.
Here are some of the book covers that have been printed over the years. Hover over the images to see in which year they were printed.
Do you have a favorite?