It's Christmas eve and there may be no better story to share with children tonight than the classic tale "Twas the Night Before Christmas." Also known as "A Visit from St. Nicholas," the story has been a childhood favorite for over a century. Originally published anonymously in 1823, Clement C. Moore later claimed authorship. The poem has since slipped into the public domain and you can enjoy a video presentation and audio reading in the video player above. You may read the poem below.
The poem is one of the best known during the holiday season and has been depicted in media and literature.
Twas the Night Before Christmas (written by Clement C. Moore, now in the public domain)
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
Mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, threw open the sash.
And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
That I knew right away, that it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer, now Vixen,
On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner, and Blitzen".
To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall,
Dash away, dash away, dash away all.
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
All the clattering noise of these galloping hoofs.
All bundled in fur from his head to his foot,
His clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
I drew in my head and was turning around,
When down the chimney he came with a bound.
A bag full of toys he had slung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes, how they twinkled,
His dimples, how merry.
His cheeks were like roses
His nose like a cherry,
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
The beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
The smoke went around his head like a wreath.
Oh, he was so jolly and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him,
In spite of myself.
He had a round face, and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
I knew all the while I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
He filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk
And laying a finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all good night."