Happy Birthday Clement Clarke Moore

by Melinda

This is an early birthday wish for the author of one of the most famous poems, “A Visit From St. Nicholas.”

Granted, the majority of people think the title is, Twas the Night Before Christmas.  But that’s merely the opening line of the poem.


Clement Clarke Moore was born on July 15, 1779 (and he passed away nearly 84 years later on July 10, 1863).  Moore was well educated with both BA and MA degrees from Columbia College.

During his life he was a college professor of Oriental and Greek literature at Columbia.

And for almost 30 years he held a post as a professor of Biblical learning at the General Theological Seminary in New York.

In fact, the ground on which the seminary now stands was a gift – land donated from his family estate.

For 10 years (1840 – 1850), he was also a board member of the New York Institution for the Blind (now known as the New York Institute for Special Education).  It seems to me Moore shared his wealth and good fortune with those less fortunate.

He is also known to have compiled a Hebrew and English Lexicon (1809), and published a collection of poems (1844).

Moore had a summer home in Newport, Rhode Island.  This was common among the wealthy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  In fact, I toured many of these incredible homes (mansions) many years ago when I visited Newport, RI.

He died while visiting his summer home and the funeral was held at the Trinity Church in Newport.  Moore owned a pew in the church.  It’s a lovely historic church.

But why do I talk about Clement Clarke Moore here on the Yule Be Merry website?

Because his poem is credited for our “modern” day image of Santa Claus. What Santa looks like, his visit on Christmas Eve, sleigh and flying reindeer, the names of the 8 reindeer, and so forth ALL stem from this poem.

Read more about Clement Clarke Moore’s influence on our Christmas traditions and his role in the history of Christmas here.   Happy birthday Clement; and thanks for making Santa such a “right jolly old elf!”

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