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Most people with a fondness for Christmas can name most of Santa’s reindeer, but comparatively few can name the whole herd. But even in the instances of those who can, actually knowing from where their names came from is a very different story.
Ask yourself – do you really have any idea where the names of history’s most famous reindeer came from?
The answer…at least in the case of most of the herd…is in fact a poem by the name of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” which was written by Clement C. Moore all the way back in 1823. The poem is also widely known as “T’was the Night Before Christmas” and “The Night Before Christmas”, which speaks of not a creature stirring…not even a mouse.
However, a little later in the poem, the writer introduces Santa’s magical flying reindeer and for the first time gives names to all eight of them – the passage reading as follows:
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
with a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen!
“On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Dunder and Blixem!
“To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
And there you have it – the first mention of the names of the herd. But what about the most famous reindeer of them all?
Well, Rudolph turned up a little later in 1939, when Robert L. May wrote a story about Santa having trouble one Christmas Eve due to heavy fog. Having noticed on a visit to Rudolph’s house just how bright his red nose was, he decided it would make a great lamp for the front of his sleigh and thus allow him to navigate the fog. Which it did, summarily resulting in Rudolph returning as the hero of all Christmas heroes!
The story of Rudolph and the rest of the herd has been told and re-told thousands of times, but if you’d ever wondered about their origins, now you know!