A Cure for the Post-Christmas Hangover

Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
Dec. 26 2012 1:45 PM

A Cure for the Post-Christmas Hangover

The Vault is Slate's new history blog. Like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter @slatevault; find us on Tumblr. Find out more about what this space is all about here.

In Brown University's digital collection of temperance pamphlets and broadsides, this parody of Clement Moore's “A Visit from St. Nicholas” stands out for its relatively late publication date (circa 1941) and use of humor. Where many earlier temperance pamphlets leveraged the pathos of abandoned families to plead with drinkers to put a stop to their tippling, this poem reminded readers just how awful it could feel to overindulge.

In this topsy-turvy retelling of Moore's poem, the narrator's house is in a wreck after the Christmas revelries (“The stockings weren't hung by the chimney with care—/The darn things were sprawled on the back of a chair”) and the parents don't look much better. The husband wryly tells us that after consuming “egg-nog and turkey and candy,” he “felt like the devil, and so did the spouse.”

Advertisement

Too much drinking and eating has turned the magic of Christmas into a nightmare. Santa, an “old devil,” calls his reindeer by the names of traitorous Christmas delicacies: “'Now Egg-Nog! Bacardi! Four Roses! and Brandy!/Now Fruit Cake! Cold Turkey! Gin Rickey! And Candy!'”

As the “reindeer” “whack away, crack away, with thumps that are dull” on the narrator's head, he makes an oath of temperance for the New Year: “You can have your rich victuals, and liquor that's red,/But what goes to my stomach won't go to my head.”

We don't know who wrote this clever parody, but it was donated to the Brown University Library by collector W. Easton Louttit.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.