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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Trivia

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!" Clement Clarke Moore.

Clement Clarke Moore, who wrote the poem originally titled A Visit from St. Nicholas & now generally referred to as The Night Before Christmas, was a dour straight~laced professor of classics who notably wrote A Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language & refused to publish his poem as it was a mere trifle. He is remembered for his mere trifle. No~one remembers, let alone reads, his 2 tome academic achievement. It is in Clarke's poem that Santa's reindeer are first named. Rudolph is a later ring~in.

We had a gorgeous illustrated version of this poem when I was a child & I took great delight in reading it to mine when they were little. Now even Ditz is too old for such simple pleasures.

I know you've seen the cutesy pictures but reindeer are similar to caribou ~ a good sized, hefty deer that can stand as much as 4' high at the shoulders, weigh 250 pounds, travel at 50mph & pull twice its own weight ~ perfect for lugging sleighs round the sky all night! Reindeer are Santa's because they are the deer of the Artic Circle. There are no wild reindeer left, unless there is a remnant in far northern Norway. They have all been domesticated.

I was also fascinated to learn that the chances are very good that all Santa's reindeer are female ~ despite all those strong, male sounding names. Male reindeer shed their antlers before winter but females retain theirs until the spring. OK, some neutered & young bucks may also keep their antlers but they wouldn't be the biggest, strongest deer in the herd either.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle...


Sandra said...

The things we learn when we look. I didn't know there weren't any wild reindeer left. Sort of sad.

Ashley Dumas said...

We love the Rudolph the Reindeer movie with Burl Ives (I think that is right) anyways I have the soundtrack downloaded and we listen to it with all our Christmas music. Thanks for the post on reindeers.


Constance said...

I have been negligent my friend in visiting and leaving any comments. Naturally, when we remembered my brother's passing, I thought of you. What an awful connection to have between us but as I prayed for my folks it reminded me to pray for your family as well.

Twins have run in our family in the past but no one recent has had them (What's up with all of these famous people having twins suddenly?) My mother had cousins that were twins. One was an Opera Singer who died when the Russians bombed the Opera House where he was performing. The other was a Concert Pianist who died in Stalingrad. Sigh, what a waste!

My Great-grandmother had twins as well. Uncle AC is still living at 86 but his brother, Uncle AZ was killed in 1942 in the Solomon Islands. Uncle AC told me that there is a connection there that non-twins don't understand. He said he cries every night, because he misses him so bad after all of these years. Maybe he feels lost and incomplete without him.

We have seen Caribou while in Canada on vacation last summer. They are beautiful animals! I recently read this article too proclaimng the theory that Santa's reindeer were in all liklihood females. I had to laugh at how serious they were taking themselves. As if flying reindeer were actually possible!!!It was good for a chuckle!

Have a wonderful Merry Christmas my down under friend. Sending a Texas sized hug your way!