Christmas Traditions: Reindeer

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We all know Santa has reindeer who guide his sleigh, but how and where did the legend begin? 

The Inuit people had a story about the origin of caribou, or as we know them today Reindeer. “Once upon a time there were no caribou on the earth. But there was a man who wished for caribou, and he cut a hole deep in the ground, and up this hole came caribou, many caribou. The caribou came pouring out, until the earth was almost covered with them. And when the man thought there were caribou enough for mankind, he closed up the hole again. Thus the caribou came up on earth.”

Numerous artwork has been found among the people of the caribou with antlers.

Robert L. May

In 1823, a poem was anonymously published titled “A Visit from St. Nicholas”. Today we know it better as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”.  Santa’s reindeer are named for the first time Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder {now Donder} and Blixem {now Blitzen}.

In 1939, Robert L. May published a book Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  In 1949, Gene Autry released the song based on the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer {and paraphrasing A Visit from St. Nicholas} and was later followed by the animation special in 1964.

Santa will always have his reindeer thanks to these legends which have withstood the test of time.

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