The Night Before Christmas, Latin Style

It's a Weekend Edition Saturday holiday favorite: "A Visit from St. Nicholas" with a Latin accent. Claudio Sanchez reads the poem.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

A WEEKEND EDITION favorite now. The poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," which may or may not have been written by Clement Clarke Moore, was published in 1822 and set the modern image of Santa Claus. You know it: a fat guy driving a team of flying reindeer pulling a toy-laden sleigh, some jolly jelly-belly gnome who has to squeeze himself down chimneys. Now today we give you a different version by an as-of-yet-unauthenticated author. It was brought to our attention many years ago and is read by NPR's Claudio Sanchez.

CLAUDIO SANCHEZ reporting:

'Twas the Night before Christmas and all through the casa not a creature was stirring...hijole, que pasa? Los ninos, they were all tucked away in their camas, some in long calzones, some in pajamas.

While Mama worked late in her big oficina, El Viejo, he was shopping at the corner cantina, buying some milk and a little cerveza, for Santa to find on the dining room mesa.

While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado, in hopes that old Santa would feel obligado to bring all the ninos, both buenos y malos, a nice bunch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard, there arose such a grito that I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito. I ran to the window and looked out, afuera. And who in the world do you think that it era?

St. Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero. He came dashing along like a crazy bombero. And pulling his sleigh, instead of venados, were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre, ey Poncho, ey Pepe, ey Cuca, ey Veto, y Chato, ey Chopo, Maruka, ey Nieto. Then standing erect with his hand on his pecho, he flew to the top of our very own techo.

With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea, he struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea. Then huffing and puffing at last to our sala, with soot smeared all over his red suit de gala, he filled all the stockings with lovely regalos, for none of the ninos had been very malos.

Then, chuckling aloud, seeming muy contento, he turned like a flash and was gone like the viento. And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad, `Merry Christmas to all! Feliz Navidad.'

(Soundbite of Latin version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer")

SIMON: Los Lobos at 22 minutes before the hour.

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