Most of us know the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas written by Clement Clarke Moore almost 190 years ago even if we are not American. But how would it fare if applied to another far older, culture – like the Vikings for instance? Just how would it translate? :-

– – –

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Hall
Not a creature was stirring, not a warrior nor thrall.
And I in my armour, my shield and my helm
Was drunker than anyone else in the Realm.

I staggered upstairs and fell into bed
While four quarts of mead were ablaze in my head.
Then up from below came the sounds of a brawl
So I grabbed up my axe and ran down to the Hall.

I missed the last step and crashed down in a heap
Thinking, “Why can’t those low-lifes downstairs go to sleep!”
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But two brawny strangers, wielding mallet and spear.

I said to myself, “We’ll soon have them beat!”
Then I noticed ten warriors laid out at their feet.
I gave out a yell and leapt into the fray…
I’ll always regret my poor choice of that day.

For the one laid his hammer to the side of my nose
And up, up, up to the rafters I rose.
Then came a lone frightened voice from the floor,
“Those are no mortal warriors — that’s Odin and Thor!”

Then they looked at each other and they said, “Battle’s done.
Now they know who we are, it no longer is fun.”
Then Thor raised his hammer, and his elbow he bent,
And with a loud crash, through the ceiling they went.

I crawled through the Hall and flung open the door,
Not really sure that I’d seen them before.
The snow bathed in starlight, the moon like a glede,
I saw them ride off on an eight-legged steed.
And I heard them exclaim, ‘ere they flew out of sight,

– – –

Clement Clarke Moore (1779 – 1863) wrote the poem Twas the night before Christmas (also called “A Visit from St. Nicholas”) in 1822. It is now the tradition in many American families to read the poem every Christmas Eve. The poem has redefined our image of Christmas and Santa Claus. It could also be argued that exports of sentimental Christmas movies from Hollywood have also done their bit to popularise this poem. It is important to note that prior to the creation of the story of ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, had never been associated with a sleigh or reindeers!

Clement Moore was a reticent man and it is believed that a family friend, Miss H. Butler, sent a copy of the poem to the New York Sentinel who published the poem. The condition of publication was that the author of Twas the night before Christmas was to remain anonymous. The first publication date was 23rd December 1823 and it was an immediate success.

It was not until 1844 that Clement Clarke Moore claimed ownership when the work was included in a book of his poetry. Would Clement have approved of this “translation” of his classic poem? Maybe he would, maybe he wouldn’t?

Wishing all fans and members a very merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Twas the Night Before Christmas (Viking Style) can be found in Tiivistelmä (ISBN 978-0-956558-44-7) a book of Viking poetry and mythology for Viking Skalds and tellers of Viking tales

Tiivistelma Cover

Tiivistelma Cover