Santa Claus Forced to Quit Smoking
A Visit From St. Nicholas’ was first published anonymously in 1823. Considered to be one of the most famous poems in the English language ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ has been published and reprinted many times in many different formats.
The poem is in fact largely responsible for creating the character of Santa Claus as we know him today- a plump jolly man with ‘cheeks like roses’, a nose like a cherry, eyes that twinkle, a broad face, a wobbly belly, dressed in red from head to toe carrying a bag full of toys on his back.
In 2012, Canadian independent publisher Pamela McColl edited the famous poem leaving out the verse and illustration that both described and showed Santa with a pipe.
The cover of the newly edited book claims the work is edited by Santa Claus for the benefit of children of the 21st century. Included on the back jacket flap is a letter from Santa himself announcing that “all of that old tired business of smoking” is behind him, claiming that the reindeer can confirm his fur outerwear is faux out of respect for animals.
Though the new book has received a great deal of criticism, McColl has won the support of many parents and grandparents as well as anti-smoking activists like the Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. The new book has also received several awards.
There is no doubt in my mind that Pamela McColl had good intentions with the book. I am all for the cause to prevent children from smoking at an early age, though I don’t believe for one moment the original image of Santa with a pipe influences children to smoke.
In reality, surprisingly until I heard about the new book from Pamela herself I never gave any though to Santa smoking in the original poem. I had to in fact read the original to find reference to the pipe and smoke that circled Santa’s head as a wreath. It shows you how much attention I ever paid to Santa and his pipe.
Nonetheless for parents who may be interested in the newly edited book, I can tell you that the removal of the two lines doesn’t in anyway affect the flow or feeling of the book. The bright bold colorful images will certainly grab the attention of young children. The drawing are representative of what the illustration is portraying.
I do feel if we were going to update a book for children of the 21st century perhaps some of the illustrations should also have been updated to reflect today. The illustrations in Pam’s book reflects the era when the famous poem was first published, with the family tree being lit with candles. The gifts in Santa’s pack are also reminiscent of older toys as well.
No offense Susan, but I think I will stick to the classic version with acceptation of a personal revision from chroniclebooks.com.
Those interested in purchasing Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century can visit twasthenightbeforechristmas.ca.
What are your opinions on the new version?