Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Surprise - The truth about those flying reindeer....

* The truth about those flying reindeer.... *
From Snopes

Did you know that one of Santa's eight reindeer was originally named Donder, not Donner? And that there is a good chance (although not 100%) that all of Santa's reindeer are female even if they have names that sound masculine? And that Rudolph was originally just a big commercial for Holiday greed? Yes, according to the Christmas Urban Legends page at here is the truth about those reindeer...

The legend: One of Santa's eight reindeer was originally named Donder, not Donner.

The truth: The Santa legend had the jolly toy-bringer's sleigh pulled by a single unnamed reindeer until Clement C. Moore's poem "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" (first published in 1823) established that Santa had eight reindeer and gave them all names. The original version of the poem went as follows:

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now, dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

How, then, did the name 'Donder' become transformed into 'Donner'? There is some linguistic sense to opting for 'Donner' over 'Donder': Blitzen, the reindeer with whom Donder is generally paired, takes his name from the German word for 'lightning,' and the German word for 'thunder' is 'Donner.' ('Donder' is actually the Dutch word for thunder, but that connection is more likely due to coincidence than any intent on Moore's part.) However, the real culprit in The Great Reindeer Name Change appears to be the song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." (see below for the scandalous truth about Rudolph). And btw, Donder has his own web page devoted to his Crusade to Restore His True Name.

Legend: There is a good chance that Santa's reindeer are female (even though so many of them have 'Boy' names)
The truth: In all the pictures of the reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh the deer all have a full set of antlers. According to the University of Alaska's Reindeer Research Program Reindeer FAQ, it is true that only female reindeer retain their antlers much past the beginning of winter. (Reindeer and caribou are the only deer (Cervidae) where males, females, and calves produce antlers. Substantial growth of calf and female antler can be obtained with good nutrition. Some females can grow small shovels (eye-guards), normally grown only by bulls. Like other deer, reindeer shed their antlers annually. Bulls drop their antlers by January, and pregnant cows and calves retain theirs until spring. Normally, pregnant cows retain their antlers a week or so after calving for advantage over food resources. New antler growth in the spring and summer is nourished by a highly vascular covering called velvet which is shed in August. Bull antler hardens (ossifies) in June and cow antler in July.) The above facts being noted, it's not impossible that a male reindeer could retain his antlers as late as December 24, just rather unusual.

The Legend: The character 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' was created for the Montgomery Ward group of department stores as a way of selling Christmas merchandise.

The truth: Yup, Rudolph was basically born to be a commercial. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created in 1939 by a copywriter named Robert L. May, who came up with a poem about a misfit reindeer at the request of his employer, Montgomery Ward, for a Christmas story they could use as a store promotion. The Rudolph phenomenon really took off, however, when May's brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, developed the lyrics and melody for a Rudolph song. Although the story of Rudolph is primarily known to us through the lyrics of the song, the story May wrote is substantially different in a number of ways. Rudolph was not one of Santa's reindeer (or the offspring of one of Santa's reindeer), and he did not live at the North Pole. Rudolph dwelled in an "ordinary" reindeer village elsewhere, and although he was taunted and laughed at for having a shiny red nose, he was not regarded by his parents as a shameful embarrassment. Rudolph was brought up in a loving household, and he was a responsible reindeer with a good self-image and sense of worth. Moreover, Rudolph did not rise to fame when Santa picked him out from the reindeer herd because of his shiny nose. Santa discovered the red-nosed reindeer quite by accident, when he noticed the glow emanating from Rudolph's room while delivering presents to Rudolph's house. Worried that the thickening fog -- already the cause of several accidents and delays -- would keep him from completing his Christmas Eve rounds, Santa tapped Rudolph to lead his team.

And there you have the truth about the reindeer <g>....

You Are Prancer
You are the perfect reindeer, with perfect hooves and perfect flying form.

Why You're Naughty: Because you're Santa's pet, and you won't let anyone show you up.

Why You're Nice: You have the softest fur and the sweetest carrot breath.



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