CHARLOTTE, NC, December 5, 2017 – Every now and then the question arises, “Why does Santa Claus use reindeer for his Christmas journey?”
The wisecrack answer is “because chihuahuas are too small and elephants are too big.”
What’s in a Reindeer name?
Actually, according to tradition, there was only a single reindeer pulling the sleigh until Clement C. Moore changed the number to eight in 1823 when “The Night Before Christmas” was published. Since 1939, of course, there have been nine reindeer after Robert L. May introduced “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” to the world.
Lesser known facts about Santa’s flying herd has to do with their names. Rudolph, for example, means “famous wolf” in German. The how of that name we will leave to your own imagination.
Six other reindeer, Comet, Cupid, Dancer, Vixen, Dasher and Prancer have remained the same since Moore created them.
The last two, however, were originally called “Dunder” and “Blixem.” Those less than regal names were set aside for the more familiar “Donner” and “Blitzen.” When translated from Dutch to German, they mean “thunder” and “lightning”.
But the real question is “why reindeer?”
The answer is both simple and fascinating. To begin, that Santa lives in the North Pole is a bit of an inaccuracy. Santa’s winter home is above the Arctic Circle in a town called Rovaniemi in the Finnish Lapland.
The Laps, as well as other Nordic cultures, have long used reindeer as a primary source of survival; food, transportation, and shelter. It is not uncommon to find reindeer trapping pits, guiding fences and bow rests dating as far back as the Stone Age.
Because life in the tundra above the Arctic Circle is hard, reindeer adaptations over the centuries make them able to survive in the harsh northern climate. For example, their noses have, over time, been conditioned to warm the air before they breathe, thus entering their lungs in a manner that keeps their mucous membranes moist.
In addition, a reindeer’s fur traps air that provides insulation as well as buoyancy when they travel across the frigid waters of icy rivers and lakes during migration.
Meet Santa’s Reindeer in Laplan
Reindeer hooves provide extra traction in summer when the ground is wet. They can also tighten the pads of their feet. When they pull back the pads, the rim of the hooves is able to provide traction on snow and ice.
Typically, reindeer are travelers, moving as much as 3,100 miles during the course of a year. They can run up to 50 miles an hour and swim at more than six miles per hour. Only Santa has flying reindeer, however, and thus far their zero to sixty airspeed is unknown.
Reindeer herds can range from 50,000 to half a million during the spring migration, but during the winter mating season, they become much smaller because the bucks divide the crowds as competition for the female’s company becomes intensified.
Within 90 minutes of birth, a baby reindeer is already able to run.
Ultraviolet Light Reindeer
One little known discovery that researchers at University College London recently learned is that reindeer are the only mammals that are able to see ultraviolet light. Apparently, Santa has known this all along, which has obviously been a key factor in his choice of transportation.
As a result, reindeer are able to distinguish objects in snow-covered landscapes that are invisible to the naked eye of humans and other mammals.
Believe it or not, reindeer used to live as far south as Nevada, Tennessee, and Spain. Today, however, their territory is almost exclusively in the far northern regions of the planet.
Though Santa maintains his workshops at the North Pole during half of the year, in 1925 the reindeer in that region flew away. The red-suited elf had to move his residence to Finland in order to maintain his magical flying reindeer herd.
How Reindeer fly
Naturally old Kris Kringle has a magic potion he feeds to his beloved reindeer, along with the Lichen they love so much, just before Christmas Eve to ensure his flock will be ready to fly around the world at the appointed time.
As a service of Communities Digital News, we can now reveal the magic recipe which consists of; 1/2 cup dry oatmeal, 1/3 cup sparkly colored sugar and 1 heart full of Christmas hope. Santa and his Reindeer will appreciate your tossing some of this mixture on your front lawn.
Blend the ingredients and spread them on your lawn on Christmas Eve. The colored sugar will sparkle in the moonlight to guide Santa’s sleigh to your house. The oatmeal yields a smell that gives the reindeer added energy as it leads them directly to your rooftop.
Christmas hope is self-explanatory.
Like so many lost skills, scientists today are researching how Santa devised the proper combination of ingredients to make his reindeer fly. Particularly at speeds fast enough to visit every good little girl and boy in one night.
And to do so at such incredible speeds.
Some things are better left a mystery.
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up