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A Holiday Treat: The Reading Of 'The Night Before Christmas'

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Excited to bring you this next story because on this day 193 years ago, a poem was first published in the Troy Sentinel which is a newspaper in upstate New York. It was titled "Account Of A Visit From St. Nicholas." That poem is now better known as "The Night Before Christmas." It's read by countless parents to their children on Christmas Eve over the decades. And so on this eve of Christmas Eve, NPR News presents this abridged reading.

(SOUNDBITE OF POEM, "THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: The children were nestled all snug in their beds...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: When out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #5: Away to the window I flew like a flash...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #5: Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #6: When what to my wondering eyes should appear...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #6: But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #7: With a little old driver so lively and quick.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #7: I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #8: More rapid than eagles, his coursers, they came.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #8: And he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #9: Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #9: On Comet, on Cupid, on Dunder and Blixem.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #10: To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #10: Now dash away, dash away, dash away, all.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #11: And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #11: The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #12: As I drew in my head and was turning around...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #12: Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #13: His eyes, how they twinkled. His dimples, how merry.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #13: His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #14: His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #14: And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #15: He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #15: And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #16: A wink of his eye and a twist of his head...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #16: Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #17: He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #17: And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #18: And laying his finger aside of his nose...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #18: And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #19: He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #20: And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #21: But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #19: Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.