The most important Christmas story is different to every person. For many, it’s the birth of Christ, while for others, stories of generosity and giving are preferred. Regardless of the reason for the season, there are plenty of writings to celebrate it. For centuries, the holidays have captivated authors, and some excellent works of poetry and fiction have been inspired by it. From the tranquil A Visit from St. Nicholas to the uplifting A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, holiday writings are an essential part of the season’s spirit.
Though there are many important holiday writings, maybe the best known is the Clement Clarke Moore’s Christmas poem. A Visit from St. Nicholas, also known as Twas the Night Before Christmas, details the arrival of Santa Claus to a house where “not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” For many children, it is the Christmas story that creates visions of the holiday like no other. In fact, some literary historians believe that the poem’s first line may be the most well-known that’s ever been written by an American. That’s no surprise seeing as it has been translated into many languages and has been the subject of countless children’s books.
Of course, the Christmas story that many people consider the most important is the birth of Christ. The birth of Jesus brings out many of the season’s iconic themes. Not only does it invoke the sacred themes closely associated with the season, but the three kings and their offerings to Jesus bring out the importance of generosity and gift giving during the season.
Santa Claus himself is one of the season’s iconic figures, even though the current version is a very recent creation. Today’s version of the jolly old man was invented by Coca Cola as a marketing initiative, and judging by its popularity, a highly successful campaign. However, the real Santa Claus is actually inspired by St. Nicholas, a bishop of Myra who lived in the 3rd century. Before he became a bishop, he was a wealthy child who lost his parents at an early age. Inspired by the teachings of Jesus, Nicholas decided to give his family’s fortune away to the sick and needy, becoming a figure of generosity for people throughout the centuries. His legend was brought to America by Dutch immigrants, who referred to him as Sinter Klaas.
The modern holiday season has introduced many more memorable characters to children. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is one everyone is familiar with, and it comes with its own catchy song. Rudolph was imagined by Robert May in a book published in 1939. May wrote the book for Montgomery Ward’s, which was looking for a book to sell in its stores during the holidays. May wasn’t paid for his work, though he was eventually given a copyright for it.
It’s amazing when you think about how much history remains in the holiday season. Centuries of tradition and customs have been weaved into the season, serving as a reminder every year of why people celebrate.