by James Moore
Oh, yes, their biggest job is to pull that famous sleigh for that happy fella who spreads joy and magic one night of the year. However, reindeer are also truly beautiful (and very real) creatures that not only have a place in magic, but also a place in this world.
Although referred to as caribou by North Americans, reindeer are the way they’re seen by the rest of the world. They are lovers of the cold – seeing as that they are Arctic and Subarctic natives. And even though they are widespread, there are a few subspecies of reindeer that have become very, very rare. …Not only the ones that fly for Mr. Claus.
The antlers are stunning; the warm brown eyes actually look as if they know something that the rest of us don’t; and even though the hunting and herding of semi-domesticated reindeer occurs, it’s the habitants of that same frozen world that utilize the reindeer for everything from milk to transportation.
When it comes to reindeer, folklore surrounds them wherever they go. They are prominent in all holiday movies. But it is in the location of Lapland where all people can see true reindeer at work. They pull pulks, offer food and milk, and are basically the friendly family ‘dog’ up there.
Now…there are many directions this article could go; how to hunt the caribou; how and where to visit and travel in order to see reindeer up close… But because it is the holiday season, it is important to stick with the most famous reindeer herd of them all living out there in the Great Outdoors.
The list is quick and familiar: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen and, the one who took center stage a while back for his lighting skills in bad weather, Rudolph.
It was in 1823 that people first became aware of this happy, hard-working bunch. It was the poem, “Twas The Night Before Christmas,” that turned all our ‘wondering’ eyes up to the sky to search for ‘a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer’.
Whether belief exists in your household or not, adults and children all over the world still dream about these creatures that were more ‘rapid than eagles’.
But there may be some data that you are unaware of…
Donder & Blitzen are German words that translate into ‘thunder and lightning.’ And even though there are many different writers out there who have portrayed reindeer in all sorts of ways, the image of this particular herd remains unchanged. The antlers rising in the moonlight; the hooves working away as the team races over the rooftops; the silver bells that jingle when they move – all of these facts must be true. After all, they’re always told the same way.
And although many did not know about Rudolph back in the 1800s, it appears that he was the son of Donder and Blitzen. Again, makes sense; if his parent’s ever caused a climate change or ruckus, he could be there to help the rest of the team see their way through a dark and stormy night.
So if you’re heading up to Lapland, or you’re combing through pictures of the Arctic, you may spot a stunning creature with antlers rising up through the snowflakes. This would be the reindeer. And if you happen to be in just the right spot looking at just the right herd, that reindeer may lift its head and offer you a wink. Don’t be alarmed…they definitely know something we don’t.
Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!