More musical trivia

“Up on the Housetop, Reindeer pause…"

And well they should, after dragging Santa’s sleigh around to millions of little children throughout the world, all within 24 hours. But, after all, these are magical Christmas Reindeer, capable of speeds in excess of dreams and moonbeams. But, what about real, down-to-earth, year-‘round reindeer? What about them? According to reliable sources, grown reindeer can pull a loaded sleigh for hours on end at speeds averaging 12-15 miles per hour (or 19kmh to 24kph in the northern European countries where you find the most reindeer pulling sleighs.)

Who was Olive and can you name the rest of Santa’s reindeer?

Olive is the answer to a favorite joke told around Christmastime, usually by first or second grade boys (or their uncles who may have had a few too many):

Q. Which of Santa’s reindeer is Olive?
A. Olive is the “other reindeer” in the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
as in “Olive, the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names… .”
[It’s really “all of the other reindeer,” get it?]

The traditional reindeer employed by Santa, after W. Clement Moore named them, were Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donder and Blitzen.

Rudolph the Reindeer

Ah, but do you recall, the Most Famous Reindeer Of All?

Rudolph was actually born/created in a promotional storybook by the Montgomery Ward department store back in 1939. As war clouds loomed over the horizon in Europe, Robert May, a Ward’s PR staffer, wrote the book which sold more than 6,000,000 copies for Ward’s. Ten years later, in 1949, Hecky Krasnow produced the recorded version that was sung by Gene Autry (the Singing Cowboy.) That spawned a legend, and an industry.

Since so much of the celebration of Christmas is associated with music – both religious and secular –it’s no wonder that we are fascinated with the “rest of the story”…

What’s the story behind Silent Night?

On Christmas Day in 1818, according to popular legend, Father Joseph Mohr was without music for his Christmas service at Nicola-Kirche (the Church of Saint Nicholas) in Oberndorf, Austria. The pipe organ had broken down (poor church mice had gnawed holes in the bellows) and there was no way to get it repaired in time for the service. Father Mohr had written a poem for a Christmas Mass he had held in 1816, and asked his choir director, Franz Gruber, if he could do something with it. Gruber remembered the music of his upbringing in the Austrian mountains and composed a song that could be sung by almost anyone. Together, accompanied by a guitar, Father Mohr and Choirmeister Gruber, sang what has become probably the most popular Christmas carol in the world.

Written by Dianne Weller
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