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Summary

On Christmas Eve night, while a family and their children were sleeping, a daughter awakens to noises outside his house. Looking out the window, she sees Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas) in an air-borne sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. After landing his sleigh on the roof, the saint enters the house through the chimney, carrying a sack of toys with him. The daughter watches Santa filling the children's Christmas stockings hanging by the fire, and laughs to himself. They share a conspiratorial moment before Santa bounds up the chimney again. As he flies away, Santa wishes everyone a "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."  

The Night Before Christmas is a poem first published anonymously in 1823 and later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, who claimed authorship in 1837.  

The poem has been called arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American and is largely responsible for some of the conceptions of Santa Claus from the mid-19th century to today. It has had a massive impact on the history of Christmas gift-giving. Before the poem gained wide popularity, American ideas had varied considerably about Saint Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors. 

A Visit from St. Nicholas eventually was set to music and has been recorded by many artists.

Public Domain (P)2018 Citrus Tree Publishing

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