Thursday, December 21, 2000

A Child's Christmas In America

This just in: Christmas as we know it in America is an artificial construct. We all know that, of course, and we can name some of the conspirators: Thomas Nast, the Coca-Cola corporation (maybe), and Clement Clarke moore, putative author of “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” a/k/a “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

But Moore was, in fact, part of a cabal of patrician New Yorkers whose stated aim was to create a new, synthetic, uniquely American Christmas tradition—and to this end, Moore in all likelihood plagiarized “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” passing off the work of Major Henry Livingston as his own.
An odd (and ultimately successful) experiment in 19th Century social engineering. It makes for a fascinating sory—and (again, when viewed through a revolutionary filter) potentially a very useful one for the modern social revolutionary.

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