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Reindeer Fun Facts

December 04, 2017

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Reindeer are a well-known part of Christmas lore, but you might not be aware that their part of the Christmas tradition is less than 200 years old. You also might be interested to find that there's a lot to learn about the animals themselves! Read on to find out more about reindeer and their role in Christmas legend!

What's better than a baby reindeer? Not much!What's better than a baby reindeer? Not much!Courtesy of tumblr.com

Reindeer Fun Facts

  • In North America, reindeer are also known as caribou. 
  • Reindeer live in the northernmost parts of the world; they are native to Arctic regions, as well as northern Europe and Siberia. This explains why reindeer lead Santa's sleigh - he needed animals that could live at the North Pole! 
  • The name "reindeer" comes from the Norse word "hreinn," meaning deer. 
  • Both male and female reindeer grow antlers; there's no way to be sure, but that could mean that Santa's reindeer were in fact female. 
  • Reindeer are uniquely capable of living in harsh and cold environments. Their noses actually warm the air before they breathe it in, so that their lungs don't freeze. 

A reindeer's nose is specially made for cold weather!A reindeer's nose is specially made for cold weather!Courtesy of psarisproductions.com

Santa's Reindeer Fun Facts

  • Santa's reindeer made their first official appearance in 1823, when Clement C. Moore published the poem "The Night Before Christmas," where he says that "eight tiny rein-deer" led Santa's sleigh through the night. 
  • The original reindeer were Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, and Blixem (later known as Donner and Blitzen). 
  • The names Donder and Blitzen translate from German as thunder and lightning. 
  • Some people like to leave carrots for Santa's reindeer as a special treat on Christmas Eve, but think about leaving moss instead - that's a real reindeer's favorite food!

Originally, Santa only had 8 reindeer. Originally, Santa only had 8 reindeer. Courtesy of nationalservice.gov

Rudolph Fun Facts

  • Rudolph wasn't an original member of Santa's reindeer posse; the little red-nosed reindeer didn't make an appearance in popular culture until 1939, when department store Montgomery Ward hired writer Robert L. May to write a book starring a brand new Christmas character. 
  • Rudolph's story was adapted into the famous song, still sung today, in 1949. 
  • The much loved stop-motion movie version of Rudolph's story first aired on December 6, 1964, and has aired countless times each year since then! 
  • To celebrate his 75th birthday, the United States Postal Service issued a set of Rudolph stamps in November 2014. 

The 1964 Rudolph movie is a classic!The 1964 Rudolph movie is a classic!Courtesy of yahoo.com

Reindeer clearly have a lot of significance in Christmas legend. It's amazing to think how important Rudolph is to the modern North American concept of Christmas, considering that he's only 76 years old! 

Have Your Say!

Do you have a favorite reindeer? Share your thoughts in the comments section!