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Christmas Eve 2012 19:00 BBC Radio 2

55 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 24 December 2012

"'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."

These are probably some of the most famous lines ever written about Christmas, quoted by parents, teachers and children alike. But did you know this poem is largely responsible for inventing and popularising the American idea of Christmas that's celebrated across the world today?

Over the next hour, Huey Morgan, Radio 2's very own native New Yorker, will argue just that, taking his listeners on a magical journey across the Atlantic to experience the sounds of a city that has come to epitomise the festive season.

It was in New York that Sinatra covered Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas; it is on 34th Street that Kris Kringle made Miracles happen; and it was in Harlem back in 1823 that one Clement Clark Moore penned the poem A Visit From St. Nicolas or, as it is sometimes known, 'Twas The Night Before Christmas.

From Moore's local neighbourhood in Harlem to the bright lights of Rockefeller Plaza and the bustling sidewalks of 5th Avenue, Huey traces the history of the poem to uncover just how much of it has influenced the 21st Century Christmas that we know and love. And along the way fellow New Yorkers, like Elliott Gould, Kim Cattrall, Neil Sedaka and Regina Spektor, reveal the family traditions that make Christmas so special for them.

It is thanks to Moore's depiction of a jolly old man with a "beard white as snow", on a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, that Christmas Eve has become a time of magic and excitement for children old and young. So curl up with your loved ones and be whisked off to the city that never sleeps for a magical hour of sleigh bells, music and merriment, courtesy of Radio 2's very own Fun Lovin' Father Christmas, Huey Morgan.


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