A herd of reindeer in Norway
© Lena Granefelt/plainpictur
Dashing through the snow
While many associate reindeer with the wonder of the holidays, these animals are magical in their own way. Known in North America as caribou, reindeer are well adapted to live in cold, rugged Arctic regions, like northern Norway where this herd was photographed. They're built to withstand frigid temperatures with the help of thick, dense fur and noses that warm the air before they breathe it in.
Reindeer were introduced to Christmas lore in 1823 with the poem 'The Night Before Christmas.' Written by Clement Moore, the verses paint a picture of a Santa Claus and his sleigh, driven by eight flying reindeer. In 1939, Robert May added Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to the holiday tradition when his employer, Montgomery Ward, asked him to write a story that the department store could use as a promotion during the busy Christmas shopping season. The short story became popular among children and was later turned into an animated feature. Rudolph even got his own song and eventually became one of the most famous and beloved Christmas symbols. Even though science doesn't support the theory of flying reindeer, you might want to look twice tonight when gazing up at the starry sky—you never know what you might see.