The man in the picture is Clement C. Moore, author of the famous holiday poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, and one of the founding fathers of the American Christmas. The poem is better known as “The Night Before Christmas”; and before it became popular, St. Nicholas was a stern man wearing a red archbishop’s robe. He travelled on a white horse or in a wagon pulled by goats, handing out coal and switches to the naughty. Mr. Moore gave him a sleigh and some reindeer with funny names and turned St. Nicholas into the fat and jolly old St. Nick everyone loves today.
Now the Library has many beautifully illustrated copies of Moore’s poem on the shelves at J 811.2 Moo in the non-fiction section or at E Moo and J E Moo in the childrens’ picture book area. Ask your librarian to help you find them. But just as St. Nick changed his name to Santa Claus and learned to work with central heating instead of fireplaces, the poem itself has been updated and parodied many times. Maybe The Soldiers’ Night Before Christmas would suit your holiday better (starring a buff and beardless Sergeant McClaus). Your family might prefer Twas the Night B’fore Christmas: An African-American Version or Prairie Night Before Christmas. One of my fellow library staffers recommends Cajun Night Before Christmas, where Santa comes in a skiff pulled by 8 alligators. He says his father reads it to them every year:
“An’ I hear him shout loud
As a splashin’ he go
“Merry Christmas to all
‘Til I saw you some mo’!”