On Christmas Eve eager children will stare at the sky, they share a yearning to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus riding in his sleigh, a sleigh that’s full of gifts and goodies for all of the good girls and boys. At the helm will be nine powerful (and rather magical) reindeer, pulling their hefty load with ease through the moonlit sky. Santa and his reindeer do an amazing job, delivering heaps of presents all over the world, and what’s more, they somehow get in all done in one night!
Reindeer’s are majestic looking creatures, with their heavy brown coat keeping them warm from the winter air. You will find them in many places including Canada, Europe, Alaska, Siberia and Greenland (and of course you will find them snoozing in the barn next door to the cottage of Mr & Mrs Claus). They enjoy one another’s company, in the wild they tend to live together in large herds and wander around munching on juicy grass and tasty plants. Their favourite treat is moss, but I’m sure Santa’s elite flight team of nine are partial to a carrot or two when they are left out for them by grateful children! Judging by the size of Santa’s tummy I’m guessing he enjoys all the mince pies, cookies and glasses of milk that are provided for him too!
Can Reindeer Really Fly?
Reindeer can travel long distances (they can cover around 70 miles in a 24-hour period), they can also run very fast if the mood takes them (around 50 miles per hour). As well as having plenty of stamina and speed reindeer are also exceptionally strong – easily managing loads that are twice their own body weight! All of this is pretty impressive – but flying might be one step too far for your average reindeer.
The notion that Santa Claus has a small herd of flying reindeer could be connected to the legend of the Norse god, Odin (the father of Thor). Odin was known his long grey hair and matching beard (sound familiar)? He also had a spectacular horse called Sleipneir. No ordinary horse, Sleipneir had no less than eight legs and… wait for it…. he could…fly!
Odin loved nothing more than zooming through the air, watching what the people below were up to – were they behaving in a kind a caring way, or were they being particularly bad? Sounds like Odin and Santa have a lot in common.
In the absence of a flying horse with eight legs Santa Claus decided to select reindeer to pull his sleigh through the air. Luckily, there are plenty of reindeer at Santa’s native homeland. Reindeer enjoy the chilly weather and have their own internal thermometer that allows their body to acclimatise depending on the temperature and conditions – very handy when you spend much of your time out in the cold (and this allows reindeers to sustain their body heat).
It’s not just Rodolph that has a very special nose, in fact, all reindeer have super conks! The reindeer utilises his nose to warm up the air he breathes, this helps him to stay cosy. It’s good news that reindeer are strong and robust beasts, Santa would be lost without them!
Santa’s Hard-Working Crew
We’re all familiar with Rudolph, the reindeer with the bright red nose who overcome his tormenters to successfully light the way for Santa one foggy Christmas Eve. But Rudolph is a relatively new addition to the line-up of magical Rangifer Tarandus.
In 1823 a now famous poem – The Night Before Christmas – was first published (under its more formal name of A Visit from St Nicholas). The poem featured eight magical reindeer hauling Santa’s sleigh: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (now known as Donna) and Blixem (now known as Blitzen). Rudolph was nowhere to be seen back then.
Rudolph the red nose reindeer didn’t join the herd until 1939, when Robert L. May created a booklet for department store Montgomery Ward. Robert created his Rudolph the red nose reindeer character especially for the occasion, but he was instantly loved by children and adults alike.
Fancy Getting Your Own Reindeer?
Not the real living of breathing creature of course! Instead check out our Jim Shore collectables . There’s the stunning White Woodland reindeer figurine, and the enchanting Heartwood Creek by Jim Shore – Dreams Delivered, Santa riding in his sleigh as it’s pulled by a reindeer. Both will adorn your home beautifully and add a touch of seasonal cheer.