The Invisible Web

Your Trip Into the Chapel Perilous

YuleTide: Santa Klaus and His Companions #5 – REINDEER(and the YULE GOAT)

Posted by invizweb on December 24, 2008

The Santa Klaus’ most renowned companions are the reindeer who make up his team. This was not always the case as the official animal mascot of the Winter Solstice in most of the Euro-Western world was the Yule Goat. Originally two goat whom were named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr were the mounts of Thunder God, Thor and his hammer Mjonir. It is theorized that these two are the origins of the Yule Goat (note I do not claim Santa is Thor). The function of the goat is to signify the coming feast when a goat (suprise~!) would be sacrificed to diners via roasting. The iconography of the goat lost its prominence since supposedly the tradition of men dressed as a goat for the Yule celebration, knocking on doors to sing carols, spooked small children. Thus the goat is mostly an ornament or a straw effigy to be burned nowadays.

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;
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

excerpt from “A Visit from Santa Klaus (aka, Twas the Night Before Christmas),” Anonymous (1823)

The above poem marked the rise in the reindeer as Santa’s steed of choice in popular culture. As stated yesterday, as there are no reindeer to be found in the North Pole, in Europe, many traditions hold that Santa’s reindeer reside in Lapland, Finland.  In Australia, the traditional story is that Santa unreins the reindeer for  a team of kangaroo as reindeer would overheat in sub equatorial running.

Reindeer

Reindeer

My associate, Austin Gandy of the Disinfo Weekly News remarked that, this herd of reindeer “is like a cross cultural pantheon..an evocation of barbaric names,” on the Winter Solstice special podcast uploaded yesterday. The two reindeer I noted most pertinent to this is the name “Dunder” which are sometimes pronounced “Donar.” Donar of course, is the Old High German for “Thunder” and also the name of their Thunder God, the aforementioned Thor (who I am not accusing of being a caribou either). Cupid is a diminutive name for the Greek God of Lust, Eros, son of Aphrodite.

In 1939, Robert L. May under the employ of Montgomery Ward, created the most famous of reindeer in a promotional book, and later his name sake Christmas song: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Rudolph was born to Donar, but was treated as an outcast due to his glowing nose until a snowstorm warranted his assistance to Santa.The Rudolph Company currently owns the rights to songs, likenesses, and the classic film by the Rankin Bass company (none of said media is in public domain).  I am inclined to believe there is a deal with CBS since CBS has the official website for the film.

Another famous reindeer in pop culture is Tony-Tony Chopper of Eichiro Oda’s One Piece manga and anime. Chopper as a small calf ate a Devil’s Fruit and thus gained the ability to walk bipedally and speak human languages. Like the other glowing nosed reindeer, this marked him as a pariah and he was forcefully removed by the others of his herd. He was raised by numerous doctors until he joined the StrawHat Pirate Crew of Monkey D, Luffy.

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