You know Dasher, and Dancer, and Prancer and Vixen; Comet, and Cupid, and Donner, and Blitzen…. But do you recall the history of Santa’s reindeer, and how they came to be? Ever wonder how or why reindeer are a significant part of the modern Christmas tale? If you’re interested in finding out more about the Christmas reindeer, then check out these fun facts. Don’t miss our wonderful reindeer ideas at the end.
Christmas Reindeer: Everything You Need To Know About The History of Santa’s Reindeer
I’ve always been fascinated by reindeer especially the Christmas reindeer that help Santa deliver gifts to good girls and boys. I grew hearing the song and watching the films, but I never really knew how it happened… How did the humble reindeer find its way into holiday history?
The First Reindeer Sighting:
First, let’s take a quick “modern Christmas” history lesson. Santa Claus wasn’t an original idea, he’s been developed over centuries from different cultures and stories coming together… In fact, did you know that Santa didn’t have any reindeer before the 1800s? It wasn’t until “A Visit from St. Nicholas” or more commonly known now as “The Night Before Christmas” that Santa was given his magic sleigh with reindeer.
Read it here:
“Twas The Night Before Christmas” was originally written in 1823, author unknown, (but it was most likely written by Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr. Read the argument here.)
This poem gave birth to the reindeer that carry Santa’s sleigh across rooftops and through the sky. It also painted the first 19th century version of Santa, which has remained consistent ever since.
8 Tiny Reindeer
So what kind of reindeer are carrying Santa’s sleigh? Most depictions of Santa and his reindeer are of ordinary full-size reindeer, also known as Caribou in North America. However, the original poem mentions that Santa had “8 tiny reindeer” which leads us to believe that the original poem was referring to The Svalbard Reindeer, a Norwegian native that is only half the size of its brethren.
Notice how there were only eight reindeer introduced in the original poem.
The original reindeer names:
But do you recall? The most famous Reindeer of all!…
Rudolph, The Red Nose Reindeer
The most famous reindeer of all didn’t come to be until 1939. His first appearance was in a promotional coloring book published by Montgomery Ward for the holidays. The Department store passed these coloring books out via Santa to all the children shopping. This promotional material was written by a copywriter Robert L. May. He drew inspiration for the story from his own tale of growing up shy.
In this famous short story, Rudolph is the odd one out, but what made him “different” also made him useful and he saves Christmas! It’s a classic ugly-duckling tale that immediately hit home with millions.
What started as a small coloring book… became published… then became a song… and a movie. Read the detailed history here.
Read the poem here:
Indeed, Rudolph has out-shined his fellow reindeer with his red nose.
And that’s how the story of Rudolph, and Christmas reindeer will go down in history!
Want some Reindeer ideas for your own homestead this Christmas? You’ll love these:
5 Reindeer Christmas Holiday Ideas:
1. Make Reindeer Christmas Cards
Have your kids stamp some reindeer heads with their thumb, and fill in the faces with markers.
2. Make Backyard Branch Reindeer Decor
This idea is available for purchase here on Etsy. But why not try it yourself? All you need is birch branches, a saw, some nail, and your creativity!
3. Make Reindeer Chow
This delightful treat is a holiday spin on “puppy chow” or “muddy buddies.” This sugar-coated trailmix is made by mixing chex mix with lots of peanut butter, powdered sugar, and holiday goodness. Click here for the recipe on thissillygirlslife.com.
4. Make Reindeer Cookies:
These cookies are so cute, and so simple. Bake your favorite sugar cookie recipe, then add on eyes and ears with frosting, and a little red candy nose. Rudolph never tasted so good. 😉
5. Try Some Venison
And of course, if you’re a homesteader like me you should try some real deer meat. Did you know venison is one of the healthiest meats out there? Read all about the super benefits of Venison here.
Now when you think of Santa’s Reindeer, you’ll know there’s a lot more to the story! Which reindeer is your favorite?
Watch the Original Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Feature Classic By Rankin/Bass Productions:
Which reindeer is your favorite? Share your Christmas Reindeer memories below!