‘‘Twas the night before Christmas…”. Well, actually this is the morning after Christmas, but I was thinking about the poem. For many homes around the world it is a family tradition to read the poem to their children on Christmas Eve. The poem gets a lot of play on that one special day.
The day after Christmas? Not so much! The poem was written by Clement Clark Moore (1779-1863) sometime in 1823. Moore was an American Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, as well as Divinity and Biblical Learning, at the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in New York City. This was a pretty good gig, made possible due to the fact that the land was donated by the college. It’s still there on 9th Ave. between 20th and 21st streets.
Moore was finally interred in the Trinity Churchyard in lower Manhattan. His poem lives on and helps to maintain a Christmas tradition. While the poem had many editions that were illustrated, their image of Santa Claus did not stick.
It wasn’t until the advertising campaign of Coca Cola in the 1930s that we seem to have codified the chubby, red suited elf. Up until then, Santa was often tiny, gaunt, or tall and rather spooky looking. In England his coat is green and he is known as Father Christmas, although this might be an entirely different character. It might make a decent movie for the two to meet.
No poems are currently popular for the day after Christmas. It is still the Season to be sure. The time between Christmas and New Years is unique. It is the end of the year, a time for reflection, gatherings and parties. Just not particularly good for poetry.