Could you imagine Christmas without our beloved reindeer? But this was a relatively new addition to the Christmas holiday. It was not until 1823, when Santa's Reindeer were first introduced to the public. In the poem from Clement Clarke Moore, A Visit from St. Nicholas, This work visualized "8 Tiny Reindeer" landing on a rooftop. Now, if this concept had stayed, our perceptions would be very different today. Santa and his reindeer would have become a miniature versions. Their role would have been perceived as less visible, while possessing greater magic.
This would have created two primary differences from today. Firstly, the Department-Store Santa wouldn't have been possible, if a miniature version had remained.
However, Santa's magic powers might have been easily explained, under this premises.
A Visit from St. Nicholas
Legend states that Clement Clarke Moore first read this poem to his family. But it officially appeared in a newspaper based in Troy, New York, on December 23, 1823. The poem was listed anonymously for a few decades, until 1844. And since, several alternate versions of the poem have been released. In fact, its familiar title has been changed to "The Night Before Christmas". Perhaps, the most significant change was to two reindeer, who were first named Dunder & Blixem.
It's often believed that Maj. Henry Livingston Jr (born 1748) was the first to include reindeer with Santa in his poetry.
Livingston began writing Christmas poetry in 1783. Others followed this practice, as well. This post-revolutionary era transformed Christmas into a family holiday.
Henry Livingston envisioned a Santa Claus which is quite similar to the modern version. And, he's said to have mentioned the reindeer, in a poem written in 1805. However, many of his works were unpublished.
IN 1820: Washington Irving wrote several short stories about Christmas in the Fifth American Installment. These include "Christmas", "The Stage Coach", "Christmas Eve", "Christmas Day", and, "Christmas Dinner".
It's also said, an entire decade earlier, Irving had visualized Santa Claus riding in a wagon. And, this was featured in a publication, A History of New York..
The 1812 version of this story featured a dream sequence, where St. Nicholas was soaring over treetops in a flying wagon. In a sense, this begun to shape our modern version of Santa Claus. While, at the same time, it also shows that many recognizable elements were still in their infancy.
Note that Washington Irving is most famous for his works, Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
The final contribution to Santa's Reindeer wasn't created until 1939. This is when Robert L. May (born 1905) first wrote a story about Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer.
In a sense, The story could be interpreted as somewhat of an autobiography, since it hinted toward his personal life as an outcast.
The retailer, Montgomery Ward, had been giving coloring-books each holiday season. And, since the retailer purchased literature from various publishers, they finally decided to assign this task to their own employee. Released in 1939, the book was an immediate success. But, it wasn't until 1948, when Johnny Marks adapted May's story into a popular song.
It's also worth noting that various deer have become Symbols & Icons.