I love Christmas, my favorite day of the year. In fact, the whole Christmas season is my favorite time of the year. "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" is one of the most universally popular and beloved Christmas songs in the vast repertoire of Yuletide tunes. The Rudolph character first appeared in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May and published by Montgomery Ward. Johnny Marks adapted the story of Rudolph into a song. Gene Autry's recording of the tune became "the" Christmas song of 1949, selling 2.5 million copies that year and eventually 25 million. It remains one of the best-selling Christmas melodies of all time.
The Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer character is universally beloved. Rudolph is widely recognized as Santa's 9th reindeer. I'm not one to destroy or ruin myths or step on sacred beliefs. But I am telling you, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was a girl, a woman, a female reindeer. A doe.
The underlying reasoning also points to the fact that all of Santa's eight tiny reindeer are girls, too. This is doubly strange, because the last radio spot I recorded was in October and I played "Donner," one of Santa's reindeer. Therefore, I played a chick myself!
Okay, let's get to the proof of the pudding. Ever see a picture of Rudolph? Or of the other eight reindeer? Well, every picture I've ever seen of Rudolph or Dasher, Dancer, Donner, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Vixen, and Prancer is similar. They all have one thing in common. They always have antlers.
Both male and female reindeer grow their antlers in the summer. But unlike the females, the buck will lose his antlers, usually by mid-November. Sometimes they maintain them until early December. The females, however, keep their antlers until the following spring when they give birth.
Reindeer in Norway (Image credit: Flickr user Frans (3Djavu.nl))
Therefore, Rudolph should be named Roberta or Roxanne or Ramona or Rachael or whatever. Not to mention feminizing all the other names of the other eight reindeer.
Reindeer (or caribou, as they are known in North America) are the only female deer to grow antlers. They are shed and regrown every year. The doe antlers are shorter and simpler than the buck antlers, but they still grow at a rate of over an inch a day! This is the fastest-growing tissue of any mammal.
Uh, there is one other possibility …Rudolph was castrated.
Reindeer in Russia. (Image source: Library of Congress)
If Rudolph and the other eight were all eunuchs, it is possible they are male. The Sami sometimes castrate their male reindeer, thus enabling them to keep their antlers. The purpose of the castration is to allow them to carry much heavier loads.
If the above has disabused anyone out there of any cherished, long-held beliefs, please accept my sincere apologies. I still want everyone out there to have a merry Christmas!
A reindeer in Finland (Image credit: Flickr uses Timo Newton-Sym)