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Fancy Tales Related to Christmas
A lot of what is widely regarded as true about Christmas or held as a
tradition cannot or has not been verified, or, has changed through the years.
Even Christmas Day itself, Dec. 25, has been questioned about whether that is
the exact day on which Jesus was born. Skeptics have asked why would shepherds
be out in the cold watching their flocks by night during the winter. Those
skeptics have put forward the thought that Jesus may really have been born in
the spring instead. It is therefore little wonder that there are many fancy
stories and tales that are told about Christmas and the Christmas season.
The most common fancy tale that everyone tells, particularly to children,
is about Santa Claus, also called St. Nicholas. But even if it were accepted
that Santa Claus existed, where does he live and how is he able to get to all
the houses of good boys and girls on Christmas Eve?
In the United States, Santa Claus is said to have two homes. There is a
home in Torrington, Connecticut, which is used as a distribution point for Santa
and his many helpers, who are elves, to hand out gifts. And then, a second home
is said to be located in Wilmington, New York, and that is where Santa Claus and
his delivery reindeer crew are located.
But Santa can be visited in Cyberspace at anytime and what about the
widely held belief that Santa Claus really lives in a village at the North Pole?
The people of Finland also claim that their country is the official
residence of Santa Claus. That’s because in Finland, you can actually visit a
village any time during the year and see Santa’s workshop and observe Santa and
his elves hard at work as they prepare for their very important Christmas gift
delivery job on Christmas Eve. The only day when Santa’s workshop is closed to
visitors is of course, on Christmas Eve.
Maybe a very smart visitor could visit Santa’s workshop on the day before
Christmas Eve to see if there are any clues to how Santa and his reindeers plan
to make their trip the next day. That’s because as the tale goes, in Finland
Santa Claus and his reindeers do not reach their destinations around the globe
Finland welcomes visitors to Santa’s workshop but there is nothing said
about whether visitors actually have any chance of having a word with the man
himself. While the chances of doing so are believed to be non-existent, among
the questions that inquiring minds could ask Santa is whether Rudolph is the son
of Donner (and to confirm the spelling – Donner or Donder) or whether Santa
spotted him in a different reindeer village one foggy Christmas Eve when he had
already started on his Christmas toy-delivery mission.
If mere mortals got a chance to question Santa, then he also would likely have
some questions for us humans. He may want to know whose idea was it to have
Christmas trees and for the gifts to be placed under them.
The tradition of Christmas tree as it exists today comes from Germany by
way of immigrants. But it isn’t clear how the tradition really gained a foothold
in Germany. One story is that Christians in Germany during the 16th century
started to bring trees that were decorated into their homes. Some of those
Christians would build pyramids for Christmas. The pyramids were made of wood
and would be decorated with evergreens and candles if wood was in short supply.
It is however Martin Luther, a Protestant reformer, who is said to have
been the first to add lighted candles as decoration to a tree based on his
inspiration from the brilliant light of twinkling stars that shone through
evergreen trees as he walked home one winter evening.
As the legend goes, Martin Luther placed a tree in a primary room of his
house and placed wires with small, lighted candles around the branches of the
tree. And that is how, as the tale goes, the Christmas tree as known today, was
Maybe it’s the undeniable alliterative appeal of Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer
that makes him the most known or popular of all Santa’s nine flying reindeers.
It certainly doesn’t seem as easy to come up with a similar catchy description
for the others – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and
Blitzen – as named in the song.
The story of Rudolph whose glowing red nose made him a standout, first appeared
in 1939 when Montgomery Ward department stores distributed about 2.4 million
booklets with the poem in the form of a story about “Rudolph the Red-Nosed
Reindeer.” It was written by Robert L. May, who worked in the store’s
advertisement or marketing department, to be used to attract more people into
the store. When the booklet was reissued in 1939, sales soared to more than 3.5
million copies. But it wasn’t until a decade later, in 1949, that the story
really gained immense popularity when Gene Autry sang a musical version of the
fable. As a Christmas song, it is second only in popularity to ‘White
Rudolph, the ninth reindeer whose lighted nose guides Santa’s sleigh through the
night, is now known worldwide as the song has been translated into more than 20
different languages and an animated television movie has also been based on the
story. Rudolph and his noticeable nose have also become the subject of jokes and
sparked more interest in reindeers which has led to much research into Santa and
the flying reindeers who pull his sleigh through the sky.
Along with the catchy rhythm of the lyrics, Rudolph’s story is also appealing
because of the moral lessons it contains. As the story goes, Rudolph was
ostracized by the other reindeers, which laughed and teased him about his shiny
red nose. But on a foggy night, when Santa must have been concerned that he may
not be able to deliver his Christmas gifts around the world, Santa spotted him
and kindly asked if he would step to the front as the leader to ‘guide my sleigh
tonight.’ His shiny red nose would after all be very useful in lighting the way,
Santa thought. From then on ‘all of the other reindeers loved him,” and rightly
predicted that he ‘would go down in history.’
Among the moral lessons the story can impart is that an attribute that is
perceived as negative or as a liability can be used for a positive purpose, or,
become an asset. It also makes the point that an individual should not let the
negative behavior of others define him or her and limit expectations of what can
be achieved. And it also illustrates how quickly opinions and attitudes about a
person can change.
The question still lingers however of where Rudolph came from. He is commonly
regarded as the son of Donner (or Donder), one of the original eight reindeers.
But the Snopes.com site rejects this however, saying that he dwelled in a
reindeer village elsewhere and it was there that he was seen by Santa who had
already started on his Christmas Eve journey to deliver gifts. And in a more
modern evolution of the story according to Wikipedia.com, an animation by the
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) introduced a son, named Robbie, of
Rudolph. That son has now become the tenth reindeer.
It’s also interesting to note that the idea of Santa’s sleigh being pulled by
reindeers was originated in the poem, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.’ That
poem tells the story of St. Nicholas, who is Santa, calling his eight tiny
reindeers by their names, as previously mentioned, just before he came down the
chimney of a house to start filling the stockings from a sack full of toys he
carried on his back.