Charles J. Berger: A Great Christmas Story
Artist: Charles J. Berger
It is said that Washington Irving, one of America's earliest authors, had much to do with the renewed popularity of St. Nicholas in the early 1800's. He even founded a "St. Nicholas Society." But it was the appearance of a catchy story, which begins, "Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house ..." which spread the word of Santa Claus and practically made him an American invention. For years it was thought that Clement Clarke Moore wrote and first published the story in 1844. But it has come to be accepted by scholars that Henry Livingston, Jr. (1748-1828), who had been a major in the Revolution, wrote it about 1800, a time when America was searching for its own traditions. Published anonymously in 1823 and titled An Account of a Visit of St. Nicholas, the colorful description of Santa Claus firmly established one vision in America's imagination: "His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! He had a broad face, and a little round belly, That shook when he laugh'd, like a bowlful of jelly." Yes, this is the symbol of Christmas for millions of children. And if it weren't for this delightful poem, one thing is for sure, Santa Claus wouldn't be the same "right jolly old elf" we know and love.
This art was originally published on the Fleetwood® First Day Combo Cover featuring the Traditional Christmas stamp and the Religious Christmas stamp issued October 21, 1977.
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