Where'd that come from? Reindeer, Christmas and Santa…oh my!
With all this research, by the time I retire from The Goldendale Sentinel I should be the best Trivial Pursuit player on the planet!
Reindeer You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you know … that they are all most likely female? Yep! According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, both male and female reindeer grow antlers each year. Male reindeer drop theirs after mating season, late November to mid-December, and female reindeer retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring. So, according to every rendition depicting Santa’s reindeer, every one of them was most likely female. No wonder why they are good with directions and getting Santa to the right houses without a GPS.
Christmas: When in Rome… It started with Emperor Augustus, when Romans celebrated Saturnalia. It was a celebration where normal Roman societal order ceased. Slaves became masters, peasants commanded the city and all businesses closed for everyone to participate. Starting on Dec. 17, it lasted two days. About a hundred years later, it became a seven-day event. Changes in the Roman calendar moved the apex of Saturna
lia to Dec. 25, around winter solstice on Dec. 21. It again expanded and started about a week before the winter solstice and continued for a full month. In early Christianity, Easter was the main celebration. In the fourth century, Church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Pope Julius I chose Dec. 25 in hopes of drawing in the celebrations of Saturnalia and Solstice. The Feast of the Nativity spread to Egypt by 432 A.D. and then to England in the late sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of ‘Christmas’ had spread all the way to Scandinavia.
Santa: As the legend goes … which one? We all have our idea of who Santa is in our own imagination. Thera are so many different versions of who Santa is and where he came from that it would take up a novel to compile. I will give you my version of Santa My best memories of Christmas were the huge family gatherings at my grandparents’ home in Maltby, WA. The most memorable Christmas for me was in 1977. After everyone had dinner, my grandmother feigned that she had no whipped cream. My dad volunteered to run to the store for her. About twenty minutes later we heard the jingling of bells in the front yard. My grandfather got up out of his chair and flung the front door open wide. There stood
Santa with his big white beard, a twinkle in his eyes and a huge bag of gifts. I knew as soon as I saw the twinkle in his blue eyes, it was my dad, the most amazing, wonderful dad in the entire universe. My younger brother, Ryan, and cousins only saw the magic of Santa. After pictures were taken and the gifts were given out, Santa was off to the next house on his list. About ten minutes went by and my dad, with rosy cheeks, a tiny bit of white still left in his beard and whipped cream in hand, came through the front door urging us to go out and see Rudolf’s red nose as Santa was flying by. We rushed out the door into the snow to see a red light going across the night sky. Perfect timing for a plane to be flying past! I will never forget when my dad put his arm around my shoulder and whispered, “Thanks for not telling the other kids it was me. I love you SB (short for Snot Box)”. Many years later, he would dress as Santa and ride in a fire truck delivering gifts to families in need. Even though my dad now hates Christmas, he will always be in my memory as the most amazing Father Christmas that ever was! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Everyone