Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Beyond the Myth
Hands up all those people who know the names of Santa’s original reindeer, hands back down again if you think Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer is one of them. So ingrained has Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer become in popular Christmas mythology that we could easily start to believe that he was there from the start, but he’s actually a late addition to the team.
In this article we’re going to have a look at who Santa’s original reindeer are, where Rudolph came from, and just why he has become so popular.
Who were in Santa’s original reindeer line up?
Little is known about these otherwise ordinary beasts before a now famous poem was published anonymously in 1823. Many claim that the poem was created by Clement Clarke Moore, others that it was penned by Henry Livingston, Jr; and a few that it was from a P.R campaign by S. Claus and Co, 21 The High Street, N. Pole, 0001 – though scholars and marketing guru’s have their doubts over the first two.
According to the poem which goes by the names of “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, or “The Night Before Christmas” and probably more famously as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” Santa had eight reindeer and they were called Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner (aka Donder) and Blitzen, and they could all fly.
All was well for Santa and his crew, well, until one night some 116 years later in 1939.
Who is this Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer fellow anyway?
In 1939 a story was leaked claiming that Santa’s original reindeer weren’t up to the job, and a new addition had to be added to the team. These claims were publically denied by S. Claus and Co, 21 The High Street, N. Pole, 0001, but the story by Robert L. May – working undercover in the Montgomery Ward department store – was out; the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer scandal gathered pace.
S. Claus and Co, 21 The High Street, N. Pole, 0001, claimed this was a publicity stunt by the store – though insiders claim they were actually quite miffed that they hadn’t thought of it first – and accusations, just like said reindeer, began to fly.
Rudolph, as it happens, was training behind the scenes and was having a fairly unhappy time of it, teased as he was by his peers. The fact that he was alleged to be the son of one of the chief reindeers – rumours still surround whether he was the son of either Donner or Blitzen – meaning that he was unsure that he had chosen the right career path. The final straw, for most, was his nose.
Discrimination laws were still to hit the North Pole in 1939.
Then, one Christmas Eve, when the weather seemed to have put an end to Christmas for that year, Rudolph became a hero – shone through you might say. Stardom and history beckoned. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer actually shuns the limelight and prefers to remain in the shadows and shadows are difficult to come by given his particular ability.
Why has this young reindeer with a debilitating nose irregularity become so popular?
In days of old, stories and songs were written and sung of heroes and their courageous battles, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was a hero with his own battles to be won.
He went from shunned outsider, to the saviour of Christmas; and a song was created in his honour in 1949 where Gene Autry retells the story of a lost little sheep (reindeer) that goes from zero to hero in the space of a night.
In truth it is a timeless story that speaks to all of us on one level or another. At some stage we’ll have all been told that there’s something in our lives that we really want to do, but can’t; in the case of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer we see that it can be done, we just have to take our chances when they arise.
There we have it; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – beyond the myth.
A small nosily-challenged reindeer – of dubious parentage – takes his opportunity to shine and save Christmas, P.R by Montgomery Ward department store or S. Claus and Co, 21 The High Street, N. Pole, 0001? Who knows; all we can say is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you’ll go down in history.