The Night After Christmas

Everyone’s read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by GTS’s own Clement Clarke Moore, but have you ever heard of “The Night After Christmas”?

The 1823 publication of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in the Troy Sentinel had readers “buzzing, laughing, marveling, and rhapsodizing” and solidified a typical “American” Christmas.[1] Because of its popularity and reach, Moore’s seminal poem has inspired numerous revisions, translations, and renderings of Santa Claus’s visit. Most stick to the original scheme of the poem: as everyone is settling down, Santa Claus arrives with his trusty team, leaves gifts, and rides off into the night.  In the Cajun“Night Before Christmas,” Santa arrives with a pack of crocodiles. In the Texan version, they’re eight longhorn cattle.

nightafterchristmastp1_001 (2)
Cover of “The Night After Christmas”, a 1960s printing

None, however, are like the “Night After Christmas.” The GTS library holds two copies of the mysterious parody poem, one on the reverse of a “Night Before Christmas” pamphlet dated 1875. The other  is a 1960s printing in the style of an 1880s penny dreadful, created  by greeting card company Lilac Hedges of Litchfield, Connecticut [2].

The joke poem details the consequences of Santa Claus’s visit and the merriment of Christmas night. The children in the rhyme, who before all the excitement, had been “snuggled in their beds” are now
sick to their stomachs from eating too many sweets! The quiet house is replaced with the moaning and groaning of overstuffed children and the clatter of worried parents racing around in the night. backcover ttnac_001.jpg

The night is broken by the arrival of another man in a red suit, the family doctor. The narrator questions whether the obliging doctor has been enjoying his Christmas a little too much, noticing “His eyes how they twinkled! Had the doctor got merry?/ His cheeks looked like Port and his breath smelt of Sherry.”

The parody describes the feast the children had that made them so sick as the good doctor gives them generous helpings of jalap and ipecac. Assuring the father that his children will be fine by morning, he hops in his horse-cart and drives away into the night.

This anonymous revision on the classic Christmas tale serves as a warning: don’t get too crazy over Christmas!

 

 

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Photographs of: “Twas the Night After Christmas,” Rare Class PS2429 .M5 292 1960
[1] Del Re, Gerard. Twas the Night Before Christmas. Tarrytown, NY: Wynwood Press, 1991. PS2429 .M5 N533 1991
[2] Litchfield Historical Society – Lilac Hedges 2011-08-0

 

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