When the Richmond Whig reprinted “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1861, the irony of a pointedly Southern newspaper reprinting a poem by a pointedly Northern poet wasn’t a feature. By 1862, the Whig wryly decided it was now “annexing” the poem. (In 1869, the paper would attribute the poem to a Southerner.) The editor also admitted that empty shops and overpriced goods would make the season leaner materially, but likely just as spiritually satisfying as earlier years—in spite of the fact that Santa would have to run the blockade and “escape the accursed Yankees.”

“Christmas” (from the Richmond Whig [Richmond, Virginia] 26 December 1862; p. 1.)

CHRISTMAS.—There is almost an unanimous anticipation of “a dull Christmas.” Every creature comfort which usually contributes to festive enjoyment, at this season, is scarce and high; the toy stores are almost bare, and nearly every article appropriate for a Christmas present is held at prices which only the rich are able to pay. The condition of the country, the absence of so many loved ones from home, and the numerous cases of sickness and suffering, are also adverse to the convival [sic] enjoyment incident to this holiday; but despite these drawbacks, there will be many realizations of the gladsome experience, which constitutes the pleasures of Christmas. It is the common remark every year, at this period, that the ensuing Christmas will be a “dull” one, yet everybody partakes more or less of the enlivening influences of the occasion, and so it will be this Christmas. We do not believe that Santa Claus will fail to visit this latitude to-night, as some have expected. He may have lightened his load so as to “run the blockade” and escape the accursed Yankees more easily, but we are sure he will come to bring something to the little ones; and, so believing, we annex, for the entertainment of our juvenile readers, the familiar lines of Dr. C. C. Moore, descriptive of Santa Claus’s visit:

’Twas the night before Christmas, when, all thro’ 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 through their heads;

And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my 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.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

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

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled and shouted, and called them by name—

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer! now, Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Dunder and Blixen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now, dash away, dash away, dash away all!”

As the leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

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

With the sleigh full of toys and St. Nicholas too;

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot!

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a pedlar just opening his pack;

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face, and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump; a right jolly old elf;

And I laughed, when I saw him, in spite of myself.

A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went strait [sic] to his work,

And filled all the stockings—then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle,

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


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