Michelle Obama Halts ‘The Night Before Christmas’ To Tell Kids Santa Quit Smoking

AFP Getty Images/Jewel Samad, Shutterstock/Milles Studio, Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Font Size:

First lady Michelle Obama stopped in the middle of a public reading of “The Night Before Christmas” on Monday night to advise a group of schoolchildren that Santa Claus has given up smoking his trademark pipe for health reasons.

The scene of the reading of the famous anonymous poem was a children’s hospital in Washington, D.C., reports CNSNews.

Ryan Seacrest co-read the poem with the first lady.

“Well, we have a story to tell you,” Obama said, “a story about Christmas night and this guy named, uh –”

“Old St. Nick,” Seacrest said.

“Ryan and I are gonna read together,” Obama explained. “You guys ready?”

“‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,” the first lady read.

Obama and Seacrest exchanged verses until they got to the part where Santa Claus is described as having a “stump of a pipe” “tight in his teeth.”

“I think St. Nick gave up smoking,” the first lady broke into the poem to add. “This was a long time back.”

“This was written way back in the day,” Seacrest helpfully observed.

“Way back in the day,” Obama assured the children.

Obama’s interjection comes at roughly the three-and-a-half minute mark of the video below.


“A Visit from St. Nicholas” — the actual name of the poem — was first published in a New York newspaper in 1823.

Seacrest also made his own interjection, saying “I mean this as a compliment” before reading the part about Santa’s “little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.”

A question-and-answer session followed the reading.

Seacrest said his favorite Christmas song is “Silent Night” — especially when everyone who is singing holds a lighted candle.

The first lady said she enjoys “This Christmas” by heavily-tattooed singer Chris Brown.

George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf notes that tobacco smoking has been severely restricted, largely for health reasons, since the poem’s publication in 1823.

Follow Eric on TwitterLike Eric on Facebook. Send education-related story tips to