Thursday, December 24, 2009

Blizzard bullseye and a Visit from St. Nicholas (1857)

We find ourselves in the great White North on Christmas Eve with a potential to get 20+ inches of snow in the form of a blizzard with 50+ mph wind gusts possible today and tomorrow. I guess we'll be burning those extra yuletide logs to stay warm.

With the white Christmas on my mind, I next thought of my semi-early (1857) copy of 'A Visit From St. Nicholas' by Clement Clarke Moore - by way of Henry Livingston Jr. This copy from Harper's Magazine was one of the original versions that gave an illustrated anotomical figure to jolly old St. Nick. For those that know it by its newer title, it is known as 'The Night Before Christmas'. This single poem was largely responsible for the conception of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer (sans Rudolph), and the tradition that he brings toys to children. Prior to the poem, American ideas about St. Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors varied considerably. The poem has influenced ideas about St. Nicholas and Santa Claus beyond the United States to the rest of the English-speaking world and beyond. I know I will be pulling my copy off the shelf, and reading it to my 9 mo. old to begin a hopefully long and well-celebrated tradition.

From our house to yours, we at Northwest Press Books wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season.

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