With winter and especially Christmas, reindeer are often associated. Many appreciate the majestic creatures of the Arctic, though not everyone celebrates Christmas. Nowadays, it seems that reindeer have always been associated with Christmas traditions, but it is not entirely so. With this in mind, we at Carve Me A Bear Chainsaw Carvings would like to share the origins of reindeer becoming associated with Christmas and Santa’s sleigh.
Reindeer Christmas Symbolism
Just as images such as the mistletoe, snowmen, and snowflakes are now used in Christmas decorations and holiday greeting cards, reindeer have become a modern Christmas symbol. Reindeer, unlike some of the Christmas symbols, are a real-life animal that are a type of deer species that inhabit the Arctic regions and are quite accustomed to living in cold and under rugged conditions, which makes it easy to implement the winter season, particularly Christmas.
A Visit from St. Nicholas
Only strengthening the symbol, a poem written by Clement Moor called “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, helped reindeer popularity and then soon after the song “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Written in the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, also known as “The Night Before Christmas,” talks of Santa Claus and his little sleigh, driven by eight flying reindeer. Because Moore’s poem was published annually during Christmas, establishing the reindeer as a beloved symbol of the holidays.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
In 1939 Robert May created Rudolph. May’s employer, Montgomery Ward, asked him to write a story, as they wanted a story that they could use to promote the department store chain. Used specifically in a giveaway, this Rudolph story was originally a booklet. Among children, the short tale became a hit. The Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer in tandem with the poem evolved reindeers into one of the most modern of Christmas symbols as a result.
Sami Reindeer Herders
Reindeer were tied to the oldest indigenous culture in Northern Europe before the reindeer become a part of Santa’s family. For thousands of years in the snowy Arctic of northern Norway, reindeer have been a symbol and a way of life for the Sami. Throughout Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia, the Sami, Northern Europe’s oldest surviving indigenous people live. About 10% of Samis still herd, but the bulk of the reindeer population are found in Kautokeino and Karasjok, Norway. Even now, the reindeer are herded up into the mountains for the long winter and brought down again in spring.
Reindeer first came to Alaska, via Siberia and through the work of an Alaskan missionary named Sheldon Jackson. Many Inuit were starving, as the whales were a source of their primary diet, due to the commercial overfishing of whales for whale oil, in the mid-1800s. As he become consumed with the idea finding an alternative food source for this culture, Jackson turned to the idea of reindeer herding and husbandry.
Reindeer Chainsaw Carvings in Las Vegas, Nevada, Helena, Montana & Nampa, Idaho
With Thanksgiving behind us, and Christmas soon to follow, quite a few find themselves looking for an intriguing gift for a loved one. Gift them with an early present of a uniquely carved reindeer from Carve Me A Bear Chainsaw Carvings so they have a great Christmas symbol to enjoy for the holiday season if your special someone has a soft spot for reindeer. Contact us today!