|Santa Claus' reindeer|
Unknown/possibly N/A (see "Notes" section)
A New‐Year’s Present, to the Little Ones from Five to Twelve, part 3 (1821)
William B. Gilley
Anonymous, possibly Arthur J. Stansbury
Santa Claus’ reindeer are a team of flying reindeer traditionally held to pull the sleigh of Santa Claus and help him deliver Christmas gifts.
The first appearance of any of Santa Claus’ reindeer is in an 1821 poem (“Old Santeclaus with much delight / His reindeer drives this frosty night …”) that does not specify the number of reindeer, but the accompanying illustration depicts the sleigh being pulled by only one.
The 1823 poem by Clement Clarke Moore, the reindeer’s second appearance, explicitly depicts a team of eight reindeer. The commonly cited names of the reindeer are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder (or Donner), and Blitzen. They are based on those used in the 1823 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (commonly called "The Night Before Christmas"), which is arguably the basis of the reindeer's popularity as Christmas symbols.
Public Domain Literary Appearances
- "Old Santeclaus with much delight…" (poem), in A New‐Year’s Present, to the Little Ones from Five to Twelve, part 3, The Children’s Friend, vol. 3, 1821. The text does not specify the number of reindeer, but the illustration depicts the sleigh being pulled by only one. (Yale U. Library)
- "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas," by Clement Clarke Moore, The Troy Sentinel, 23 Dec. 1823. (page online) The reindeer’s first appearance with the most popular names of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (or Donder or Donner), and Blixem (or Blitzen).
- Reprinted many times with multiple alterations, including in The New‐York Book of Poetry, 1837. (Internet Archive)
- “The Marriage of Santa Claus,” in The Reading Club and Handy Speaker: Being Serious, Humorous, Pathetic, Patriotic, and Dramatic Selections in Prose and Poetry, for Readings and Recitations, no. 9, ed. George Melville Baker, 1881. (Internet Archive)
- "Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh‐Ride," by Katharine Lee Bates, Wide Awake, vol. 28, no. 1, Dec. 1888. (HathiTrust)
- Reprinted in Sunshine and Other Verses for Children, 1890. (Internet Archive)
- The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1902). L. Frank Baum gives Santa ten reindeer, rather than eight, whose names are Flossie and Glossie, Racer and Pacer, Reckless and Speckless, Fearless and Peerless, and Ready and Steady.
- Tommy Trot’s Visit to Santa Claus, by Thomas Nelson Page, 1908. (Internet Archive)
- Mrs. Santa Claus, Militant: A Christmas Comedy, by Bell Elliott Palmer, 1914. There are repeated references to the reindeer, and the injuries they sometimes sustain, throughout the play, with Santa Claus mentioning two of them as D. & B. (Dunder and Blixem). (Google Books)
- The Luck of Santa Claus: A Play for Young People, by B. C. Porter, 1918. (Internet Archive)
- "There Was a Boy Who Lived on Pudding Lane: A True Account, if Only You Believe It, of the Life and Ways of Santa, Eldest Son of Mr. and Mrs. Claus," by Sarah Addington, The Ladies’ Home Journal, vol. 38, no. 12, Dec. 1921. (HathiTrust)
- "The Great Adventure of Mrs. Santa Claus," by Sarah Addington, The Ladies’ Home Journal, vol. 39, no. 12, Dec. 1922. (HathiTrust)
- The Christmas Forest, by Louise Fatio, 1950. In the public domain from failure to renew copyright. (HathiTrust)
Public Domain Film Appearances
- Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1944)
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
- The copyright year in Roman numerals was mis-marked as MCLXIV (1164) instead of the correct MCMLXIV (1964). Per U.S. law at the time, this invalidated the copyright, causing it to enter the public domain immediately upon release.
- Although Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer is (arguably) "the most famous reindeer of all," he was created in 1939 by Robert L. May and his first appearance was renewed. However, he has been popularly referred to as "Santa's 9th Reindeer."