Commercializing Christmas isn’t a new phenomenon. In 1839, merchants in New York, New York, displayed possible Christmas gifts in tempting arrangements in their windows; Santa descended a chimney over the door of a shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1841. So perhaps it’s no surprise to find (sort of) “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” to advertise the well-stocked store of Frederick Von Santen and Bernard S. Baruc in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1856. The store sold “FRENCH, GERMAN AND BRITISH FANCY GOODS“ including reticules and work bags, desks, toys, vases, and personal items at retail and wholesale to “COUNTRY MERCHANTS visiting the city.” [advertisement. Charleston Mercury 19 October 1853; p. 3] Rewriting the poem allowed Von Santen’s to advertise itself and also to wish its patrons a Merry Christmas. Given that The Poem had been reprinted multiple times since its first appearance in 1823, prospective patrons of Von Santen’s probably appreciated the cleverness. It wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last time the poem appeared in advertisements for local businesses.
“Santa Claus’ Headquarters” (in The Charleston Daily Courier [Charleston, South Carolina] 24 December 1856; p. 3)


Every Quality, Style and Beauty
268 and 286 King-street,
At Reduced Prices, [sic]

’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring—not even a mouse:

The stockings with care by the chimney were hung,

In hopes that St. Nick from VAN SANTEN’S would come.

Santa Claus’ headquarters was at VAN SANTEN’S they knew,

For they’d all been around and taking a view.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar plums danced through their heads.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter,

When what to my wandering [sic] eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,

With a lithe little old driver so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick;

More rapid than eagles his coursers they come,

And he shouted and hallooed, from VON SANTEN’S I came.

Then up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With a sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas, too;

As I drew in my head and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work;

He filled all the stockings, and was off with a jerk;

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

December 24

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