Merry Christmas to all … and now that we have survived the end of the Mayan calendar … well … those of us that have … maybe we can also eliminate some other myths <and be enlightened in some way>.
Like Donner & Blitzen.
Let’s eliminate two of Santa’s reindeer. And, no, I am not a member of the NRA and, no, I am not a hunter and, no, I do not want to suggest they sucked at reindeer games and they … well … lost <in a big way>.
Christmas has many myths and legends but I will focus on Santa’s 8 reindeer and 2 in particular.
8 <not 9>.
Rudolph just had a song … he was not really part of the Santa team. He was a ‘walk-on’ if we want to use sports terms.
The flying reindeer. The most well-known tradition <in western countries> with reindeer is Santa Claus <or Father Christmas> and the sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. Because of a song and a great television cartoon Rudolf became the lead reindeer. Regardless. The flying reindeer legend began in the early 1800’s <Rudolf did not join the Santa reindeer team until 1939>. It all began with a poem written by Henry Livingston, Jr. <although Clement Clarke Moore got credit for the poem despite not really being the author>.
Livingston, an expert on the subject of Dutch Folk law wrote the poem , A visit from St Nicholas, more commonly known as The night before Christmas in 1822.
<don’t worry … I will get to the point … but the whole Dutch thing is important>.
Vixen <my favorite>.
Dunder & Blixem.
Not Donner & Blitzen.
How did this happen?
Well. That aggravating Christmas ditty “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was a 1949 hit tune sung and recorded by Gene Autry and based on a character originally created by a marketing team for Montgomery Ward <a now defunct retail chain>in 1939.
<by the way … have you noticed that there has not been one good new Christmas song since the 50′s or 60′s? … maybe a different post but that is possibly why almost all Christmas songs are aggravating … we have been listening to them forever !!>
The lyrics were written by Johnny Marks, who borrowed most of the reindeer names from the 1822 poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”.
The original poem refers to “eight tiny reindeer” and gives them each a name: “Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!/On, Comet! on, Cupid! on Dunder and Blixem!”
“Dunder” and “Blixem.”
I bet you <as i> have always heard “Donner” and “Blitzen.”
The former were Dutch names written into the poem by Livingston.
Only in later versions, modified by Moore in 1844, were the two names changed to German: Donder (close to Donner, thunder) and Blitzen (lightning), to better rhyme with “Vixen.”
Finally, for some reason, in the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” Marks turned “Donder” into “Donner.”
Whether Marks made the change because he knew German or because it just sounded better is uncertain. Or maybe he thought using German Donner and Blitzen (thunder and lightning) was cooler. Who the heck knows.
Bottom line? since 1950 or so, the two reindeer names have been Donner and Blitzen.
All I really know is that if 8 reindeer showed up on my roof I would not be yelling out their names … it would most likely be something like “holy shit.”
And if any of them answered to that it would truly be a Christmas miracle.