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Reindeer Games

Throughout the holiday season it’s impossible to overlook all the Reindeer images.

What is the history of these creatures? Well, apart from their rather famous role in Santa’s holiday gift deliveries, reindeer are among humankind’s herd animals from ancient times.

Archaeologists have discovered reindeer bone tools dating to prehistory. This is particularly true in Northern Europe where reindeers were abundant. Nearly every part of a reindeer was used when one was harvested, the hide made clothing, the hair could be woven, etc.

It wasn’t until 1939, however that reindeer shot to fame. This was the year in which Robert May wrote a poem for Montgomery ward entitled “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.

For that entire holiday season shoppers took home free copies of the poem – totaling some 250000 copies! Seven years later, May produced the poem again in book form, which is how many children and parents alike became familiar with reindeer.

Since that time there have been all manner of songs and movies starring our red-nosed friend. However, it’s questionable as to whether most people know about some of the very early Rudolph archetypes.

Take, for example, Gnasher and Cracker. No these aren’t Saturday morning character names, but rather two magical goats that pulled Thor’s chariot in Norse folk tales! So its not surprising to find the Swedish and Finish gift-giver of the 18th century being accompanied by reindeer. By the way, some of the reindeer’s names from the Christmas stories have Germanic meanings. Donder is “thunder” and Blitzen is “lightning.”

Coincidence or Yuletide Magic? I’ll let you decide. While you’re thinking, here is a reindeer Christmas coloring page for the children.


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