The Night Before Christmas Book
Reading The Night Before Christmas book on Christmas Eve is a family tradition
A favorite family Christmas tradition is reading this book on Christmas Eve. As a child we'd gather around my Dad as he'd read by the fire. Then we'd hang our stockings with care in hopes that St. Nicholas would soon be there, and tuck in with dreams of sugar plums dancing in our heads. Now as a Mother I've carried on that tradition with my own children snuggled on my husband's lap. Sadly our old family copy of the book was lost, so when my oldest was about to celebrate her first Christmas I went on a quest to find the best version of this Christmas book. I have since bought many copies and it's hard to say what's my favorite because they are each so different in their illustrations and approach to telling a very classic beloved story.
The iconic book makes a wonderful Christmas present idea or is great to add to any families own personal library. Here is a compilation of some of my favorite choices.
The History of Twas The Night Before Christmas
The original name for this book was "A Visit from St. Nicholas" when it was published in 1823 as a poem. It later became known as "The Night Before Christmas" or "Twas The Night Before Christmas" based off of the first line of the story. Originally it was published anonymously however it was later attributed to Clement Clark Moore who admitted to being the author. There are some who argue that it was in fact written by Henry Livingston Jr. who is distantly related to Moore's wife. This debate of authorship is hotly contested. Regardless of the true author, this story plays a huge role in American ideas about Santa Claus and is one of the best known verses of all time. It has been made into countless different versions of the book.
Have you read this book before?
Have you read this iconic Christmas story?
The Night Before Christmas Pop-up Book - Illustrated by Robert Sabuda
This is the first version that my adult family ever purchased. It was a surprise my husband picked out. White pop-ups come alive on a colorful page and there are times when images seem to spring off the pages. The wording in this book has been changed from the original version and the people characters are played by mice. Pop-up books are extra fun because it gives something for the kids to interact with though it might not be the best choice with young children since they'll want to grab the fragile pages (a couple of ours are torn).
The Night Before Christmas classic version - Illustrated by Charles Santore
This version of book is nice because the words have not been changed at all from the original poem. It's illustrated by Charles Santore who delivers some stunningly lavish backgrounds for the scenes of this beloved poem.
The Night Before Christmas poem is where the idea that St Nicholas had a sleigh and reindeer originated from. Until this poem he was simply the patron saint of children.
'Twas the Night Before Christmas (AniMotion)
This is probably my personal favorite version of this classic Christmas book. The pictures are really beautiful and the AniMotion of the pictures really make it something special. When you move the page it appears that the fire in the fireplace is flickering, the sugar plums are dancing, Santa and his reindeer fly across the sky, etc. It really makes the reading of this classic tale extra magical.
Do you know what a sugar plum is?
What do you think a sugar plum is?
What are sugar plums?
Sugar plums are made up of lots of sugar but are absent of any plum fruit. They're a sweet made of hardened sugar around a central seed or nut such as caraway, cardamom seeds or almond. Historically they were a difficult and tedious treat to make and so were considered a luxury consumed by aristocrats and the like.
Since the word plum in this context doesn't actually refer to a fruit at all, it's interesting to look at the history of the word. In the 1600's if you put a sugar plum in your mouth it meant one spoke sweet but possibly untrue words. If you put a sugar plum in someone else's mouth it meant you were bribing them. In the 18th century plum was British slang for a lot of money or someone with a lot of money. By the 19th century a plum referred to a desirable object of any kind. So when a plum isn't referring to fruit, it generally means a good or desirable thing.
- 2 cups toasted and finely chopped almonds
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 cup finely chopped dried apricots
- 1 cup craisins
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1. Combine honey, orange zest, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl. Then add almonds, apricots, and craisins and mix well.
- 2. Roll teaspoon sized portions into balls and then roll in powdered sugar. Place balls on waxed paper in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. They can last up to a month stored this way. They will taste better after being in the refrigerator for a couple of days after the flavors have time to meld.
Little Golden Book The Night Before Christmas version from childhood - Illustrated by Corinne Malvern
Since this Little Golden Book version of this favorite Christmas story has been around since 1949 it's likely that it's a copy that you enjoyed during your childhood. It certainly is mine. That makes this traditional Christmas book all the more nostalgic and special.
Did you read the Little Golden Book version of The Night Before Christmas as a child?
Did you read the Little Golden Book version of this Christmas story as a child?
Clement Clark Moore
Clement Clark Moore was born in 1779 to Benjamin Moore, an Episcopalian minister and Charity Clarke. He graduated from Columbia College in 1798 and in 1809 published Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language. In 1813 he married his wife Catherine Elizabeth Taylor who died not long after her 30th birthday. Moore was left a widow and father of 7 children. One of his sons had a mental disability and he stayed in his fathers care for his entire life. Moore never remarried and was a very devoted father. He wrote many poems for his children and grandchildren, A Visit from St. Nicholas being one of them. He inherited a large piece of land from his Mother's family which later became the Chelsea district in New York. He was a philanthropist and not only made financial contributions but also taught at a free adult education program for over 10 years.
Names for Santa Claus around the world
Santa Claus has many different names that he goes by. Here are some of the most known:
Some of my favorites from other countries include:
Norway- Julenissen which translates to Christmas Gnome
Russia- Ded Moroz which translates to Grandfather Frost
Sweden- Jultomten which translates to Christmas brownie (you have to admit this one is funny)
Family Christmas Traditions
What is your favorite family Christmas tradition?
© 2012 Melissa Miotke