Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa's Original Reindeer

Santa's famous eight reindeer were first described in an anonymously written 1823 poem called "A Visit From St. Nicholas". Their names were Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blixem. Donder and Blixem are Dutch for thunder and lightning, and those names were later changed to the German, Donner and Blitzen, which also translate to thunder and lightning. Rudolph, with his nose so bright, didn't put in an appearance until the 1900s. More recently, Hollywood and some misguided authors have tried to foist some new reindeer onto the team. To the relief of traditionalists, Fireball, Leroy, Pedro and Olive haven't gained much traction.

This old photograph was taken in Archangel, Russia in the 1890s. It shows the locals preparing their sleigh, getting ready to travel by reindeer. Good to know that Santa Claus had plenty of helpers beyond the North Pole, even then.

The photograph is part of the Detroit Publishing Company collection in the archives of the Library of Congress. It is described in the margins as a "photomechanical print".


High Desert Diva said...

I'm loving the photographs you're finding...

Sweet Repose said...

I just popped over from High Desert Diva and I too am enjoying your old photos. I love the history and photos of old America and the tales to go with...I'll definitly be back, you have a wonderful, interesting blog.

sharon from Iowa (the lost continent)