Old Santeclaus with Much Delight
(with original illustrations)
Old SANTECLAUS with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night,
O’r chimney tops, and tracts of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.
The steady friend of virtuous youth,
The friend of duty, and of truth,
Each Christmas eve he joys to come
Where peace and love have made their home.
Through many houses he has been,
And various beds and stockings seen;
Some, white as snow, and neatly mended,
Others, that seemed for pigs intended.
To some I gave a pretty doll,
To sum a peg-top, or a ball;
No crackers, cannons, squibs, or rockets,
To blow their eyes up, or their pockets.
Where e’re I found good girls or boys,
That hated quarrels, strife and noise,
I left an apple, or a tart,
Or wooden gun, or painted cart;
No drums to stun their Mother’s ear,
Nor swords to make their sisters fear;
But pretty books to store their mind
With knowledge of each various kind.
But where I found the children naughty,
In manners crude, in temper haughty,
Thankless to parents, liars, swearers,
Boxers, or cheats, or base tale-bearers,
I left a long, black, birchen rod,
Such as the dread command of GOD
Directs a Parent’s hand to use
When virtue’s path his sons refuse.
This is the first mention ever of “Santa Claus” in the written word, at least that we know of. There is one reference that predates this, it’s in 1812 and Washington Irving mentions St. Nicholas (but not “Santa Claus”) flying over New York in a wagon in his A History of New York. But this “Old Santeclaus” poem is the first publication that mentions and illustrates Santa’s reindeer, his sleigh, and his visit on Christmas Eve. This predates the popular poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (aka “‘Twas Night Before Christmas”) by two years and probably influenced it as they were published in New York.
Kind of cool to look back at the beginnings 🙂