The Origin of "The Night Before Christmas"
The Visit: The Origin of the Night Before Christmas, by Mark Kimball Moulton
Illustrated by Susan Winget
(Schiffer Publishing, 2013), hb., 54 pp.
Ages 4 & up
This is a fun book, richly illustrated, telling the story of how the famous poem, “The Night Before Christmas” was conceived. Apparently Clement Moore first developed and told the poem as a Christmas present for his sick daughter. The poem was first published anonymously. Some suggest Moore did not put his name to it because he didn’t think such popular verse was fitting for his reputation as a scholar of biblical languages. He told his family the story of how the ideas came together for the poem, and the family passed the story down across generations. Then, Ms. Dinghy Sharp, great-great-granddaughter of Clement Moore told the story to Mark Moulton who has put it into verse reminiscent of the poem itself for this book. The result is fascinating and fun.
I thought the story in verse was well done and engaging. It was a delight to see pieces of the famous poem embedded in the author’s experience the night of writing the poem, from the sleigh, to sugar plums to a kindly old woodman who was secretly leaving firewood for families. This woodman, who was “rotund and jolly,” had a white beard, was dressed in red coat, and was known for telling stories to the village children gathered round in the general store.
It was fun to me to discover that Clement Moore was a biblical scholar (he published a Hebrew-English Lexicon), and watching for echoes of the poem in Moore’s Christmas Eve outing was a delight. We had a lot of fun with this book and commend it to you.