"A Visit from St. Nicholas"
(also known as "The Night Before Christmas"
and "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"
from its first line) is a poem first published anonymously in 1823. It is largely responsible for the conception of Santa Claus
from the mid-nineteenth century to today, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer
, and the tradition that he brings toys to children. Prior to the poem, American ideas about St. Nicholas
and other Christmastide visitors varied considerably. The poem has influenced ideas about St. Nicholas and Santa Claus beyond the United States to other English-speaking countries
and rest of the world. The poem was first published anonymously
in the Troy, New York Sentinel
on December 23, 1823, and was reprinted frequently thereafter with no name attached. Authorship was later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore
and the poem was included in an 1844 anthology
of his works.