If you ask the average American to name Santa’s reindeer the first name to pop up will probably be Rudolph. The next two would no doubt be Donner and Blitzen. But is this correct? Where did these names come from?
The popular Christmas ditty Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was a story and then a song written long after Clement Clarke Moore gave us A Visit From Saint Nicholas where the idea of Santa Claus having eight reindeer originated. May would give us the origination and name of Santa’s ninth reindeer, but the original eight were already established. Or were they?
In Moore’s poem, written in 1823, he names the reindeer as Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder and Blixem.
What? Dunder and Blixem? Well, apparently in the original poem Moore chose Dutch names but then in a later revision in 1844 he changed the names to the German interpretations Donder and Blitzen (which means Lightning). He thought Blitzen rhymed better with Vixen, but why Dunder was changed to Donder is unclear. Even later still, and for reasons that no one knows for certain, the songwriter of Rudolph, Johnny Marks, turned Donder into Donner. There is speculation that Marks knew that the German word for ‘Thunder’ is Donner, and that perhaps he thought it went well with Blitzen (Lightning). But no one knows for sure!
Whatever the case, Donner and Blitzen have become firmly established and since the 1950’s have appeared in publications of Moore’s story.
Brown’s Dunder & Blixem Strong Ale is a wonderfully full and festive winter warmer brewed just for the holiday season. Pouring mahogany-red, Dunder & Blixem is rich and subtly roasty with notes of toffee, raisin and holiday spice with a delightful piney and herbal hop balance. Brewed in honor of Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicholas” which was first published in the Troy, NY Sentinel on December 23, 1823. More popularly known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas” the tale originally featured reindeer “Dunder” and “Blixem” (Dutch for Thunder and Lightning) before later tellings of the fable spoke of Donner and Blitzen.