A Visit from St. Nicholas
A Visit from St. Nicholas is a Christmas poem attributed to Clement Clark Moore. The story was first published anonymously in 1823. It is the best known Christmas poem in America, but its influence has been far-reaching; it is largely responsible for worldwide views and interpretation of Santa Claus, his reindeer and accoutrements.
A gentleman is preparing for bed on a moonlit Christmas Eve. To his surprise he suddenly sees a small sleigh drawn by reindeer. The appearance of the driver instantly identifies him as Saint Nicolas. The homeowner dashes downstairs, where he observes St. Nick carefully. The Saint notices, the man, but does not speak to him, just winks at him conspiratorially, leaves gifts for his children, bids him a silent farewell, then takes off.
The opening line of the poem "'Twas the night before Christmas" has become so well-known that it is often given as the title. Saint Nick's appearance has since formed the basis of popular views of Santa Claus. Santa's reindeer are named in the story.