Reindeer Names

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Every Christmas Eve, Santa Claus and his reindeer deliver presents to children all over the world.

The first time a reindeer appeared in a Christmas story was in the children’s poem Old SanteClaus with Much Delight which was published in New York in 1821 and featured an illustration of a sleigh being pulled by a reindeer. Today, Christmas stories usually feature nine reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder/Donner, Blixem/Blitzen, and Rudolph

Although most of us recognise Rudolph from the popular song, he first appeared in a booklet by Robert L. May in 1939. The booklet was distributed by a Chicago-based retailer who bought and gave away colouring books every Christmas, and who thought they would save money if they printed their own. Initially the story idea behind Rudolph’s adventure was rejected because bright red noses had negative connotations in popular culture. While at the time red noses were closely associated with alcoholics and drunkards, now we’re more likely to think of Santa’s ninth reindeer. 

The names we often give the other reindeer are based on those that appear in the 1829 poem A Visit from St. Nicholas (also known as The Night Before Christmas):

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
with a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name:
‘Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen!
‘On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Dunder and Blixem!’

Let’s look at the names of the reindeer more closely: 

Dasher – one who dashes, one who travels fast
Dancer – one who dances
Prancer – one who prances 
Vixen – a female fox 
Comet – an icy body in the Solar System that melts and releases gases in a visible tail when passing the sun 
Cupid – the god of love 
Dunder – Dutch for thunder (this reindeer is also sometimes called Donner which is the German word for thunder) 
Blixem – Dutch for lightning (this reindeer is also sometimes called Blitzen which is the German word for lightning)
Rudolph – a name of German origin meaning ‘famous wolf’

You can practise spelling the 9 reindeer names here.

From all of us at Spellzone, we wish you a Merry Christmas! 

24 Dec 2020
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