'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;
And mamma 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 the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
Until recently it was believed that this ballad was written in 1822 for Clement Clarke Moore's two daughters, Margaret and Charity, and later anonymously published in the Troy [New York] Sentinel on December 23, 1823. But, according to University of Toronto English Library, in 2000, Don Foster, in his book Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous (New York: Henry Holt, 2000) was able to demonstrate that Moore could not have been the author. Foster concluded that it was probably written by Major Henry Livingston Jr. For another analysis of the authorship see Christmas (Moore or Less?).
Visit A Mouse in Henry Livingston's House for a biography and an account of the quest to correct the authorship of this poem.