Adoline Russu

The majestic animal that we all know to guide Santa’s sleigh through blizzardy skies, bringing toys for all the children is the reindeer. But where did they come from? What are they? Why Reindeer of all creatures?  

Way back in the Middle Ages, Pagans were converted to Christianity. Reindeer were loved by pagan mythology, so their ancient customs mixed with Christmas celebrations.  

The name “Reindeer” comes from an ancient Norse word meaning “horned animal”, their home is arctic and subarctic habitats, and they date back over 2,000 years. They are a species of deer but are more unique in different ways. Deer are wild animals that can’t be domesticated, but Reindeer actually can be domesticated. In earlier times and still today, they are used for pulling sleds and carrying loads of goods and people. Reindeer also have fur that changes color depending on the season, lighter color in the winter and darker in the summer. Reindeer are hardworking, friendly with a positive attitude, and symbolize endurance and safe journeying through travels. So, it makes sense why Santa would choose reindeer for the job.  

As you probably know, Santa currently has 9 reindeer that guides his sleigh. Dasher, the fastest of them all, used to lead the party until Rudolf came along. Dancer, flair and elegant, he loves to dance. Prancer, the graceful and majestic. Vixen, the most beautiful, she gets all the attention from the other male reindeer. Comet, the strongest and the most loyal. Cupid, the most romantic and passionate, and he greatly loves Vixen. Donner, the tough mom of the group and is married to Blitzen. Blitzen, the bravest of them all and never backs down. And finally, Rudolf, the most well-known, his legendary bright red nose leads the way.  

These Reindeer have served Santa throughout the years and still do happily so. And now it’s time for some fun facts. 

Reindeer have pretty big antlers, but did you know, that unlike deer, both male and female Reindeer have antlers. They have color-changing eyes, in summer they’re bright and gold, but blue and dark during the winter. Some subspecies of reindeer’s knees make an audible click when they walk, probably so the other animals can know where each other is in blizzards. And they’re also the only mammals that can see ultraviolet light, and spot things in the dim Arctic winter.