“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen! On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen.”
When someone thinks of Christmas they think of reindeer and when one thinks of reindeer they think of Christmas. The two seem to go hand in hand. But, where do reindeer really come from? What is the origin of the flying reindeer? And what are some other important holiday creatures?
Reindeer are a type of deer that inhabit the Arctic and Subarctic. Reindeer vary much in size and color but both the male and female have the large antlers so commonly associated with them. Reindeer and the general public interact most commonly through the myth of Santa and his sled pulled by his magical flying reindeer. Reindeer are a huge part of cultures in the Northern part of the world. Reindeer have been trapped and hunted from the Stone Age to present day. In Norway, ruins have been found of old stone traps used to trap reindeer for fur and meat, as well as they used there antlers to create tools.
Reindeer do not only play a resource in humans life, but are used to pull sleighs (on the ground) like huskies. Reindeer are also an important symbol in areas like Norway as a symbol for coats of arms and also, appear on the Canadian 25 cents. Most importantly, reindeer warm the hearts of millions of children around the world as they aid St. Nick on his task to deliver presents to children.
The original eight reindeer that pulled St. Nick’s sleigh are usually credited in the 1823 poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore (shown above). However, Moore uses the German version of the reindeer Donder and Blitzen, where originally they were named in Dutch as Dunder and Blixem, both meaning Thunder and Lightning.
A popular addition to the original reindeer is Rudolph. Rudolph was known originally as a reindeer who was teased because of his red nose and excluded from any popular reindeer activities. Rudolph earns his fame, however, on one foggy Christmas Eve when Santa came and said “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you lead my sleigh tonight.” This eventually leads to Rudolph being a hero and finally getting to play reindeer games and becomes magical flying Reindeer.
Another important figure in Christmas folklore is the Christmas elf who is know as Ssanta’s little helper and given the tasks of creating children’s toys and taking care of the reindeer. Elves are most commonly portrayed as short human like creatures that have pointy ears and by the law of the North MUST wear Santa costumes. Though elves are very jolly creatures, they could also be seen as stalkers as they are given the grizzly task of discovering which children are being bad or nice, and helping Santa to know when they are sleeping and to know when they are awake.
All magical creatures are vital to upholding the magic and joy of christmas. Christmas can be argued to be a holiday of many things, Jesus’ birth, presents, giving, but all the traditions of Christmas tie back to believing, feeling joy, and being thankful for the magic and help that the creatures provide for the children of the world.