Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Why Did Father Christmas Choose Reindeer to Pull His Sleigh?

by Eloise Peabody-Rolf




Out of all of the animal kingdom why was the reindeer chosen by Father Christmas for this momentous annual task?  Surely an elephant who can carry much greater loads would’ve been better? Or, if we’re going on the magical lines, a dragon or unicorn? 

The task needs a creature that can fly quickly across the night sky, but also is big enough to pull the heavy sleigh overflowing with gifts, and has plenty of stamina to get around the world in one night!
So why reindeer?

Reindeer (also called caribou) vary in size and weight in accordance with their gender and age, but generally are around 1.2-1.5m at the shoulder and weigh anywhere from 100 to 300kg. In the wild, they live an average of 15 years, and love to eat reindeer moss!

There are a number of reasons which could contribute to Father Christmas’s choice of the now- beloved reindeer, I’m going to give you four …

dashing through the snow
For starters, the reindeer are fast when running; although (‘officially’) they can’t fly, they can still cover a great distance in a short time, the reindeer can run up to 50mph, especially when fleeing from predators. In their natural environment reindeer can cover great distances; when they migrate, they can travel up to 3,000 miles in a year. Even though this distance is impressive, as Father Christmas’s reindeer, you would have to go around the world approximately 187 times in one night, and, with the world being about 25,000 miles in circumference, that’s quite some distance - and probably why they spend the rest of the year busily munching on moss.

Reindeer have very big feet!  Their hooves have a big surface area to support their body weight on snow, and the underside of the hoof is hollowed out with a sharp rim which therefore means that when the reindeer land on the roof they can keep their balance, and not slip while waiting for Father Christmas to go down the chimney and deliver presents.

The final reason which could contribute to the choice is that the reindeer is well adapted for cold conditions. Reindeer have thick winter coats, and even have hair covering their nose which keeps them from getting frostbite, an important feature when you are one of Father Christmas’ helpers!
So, not only do they create an awesome shadow in the night sky, Father Christmas chose Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and of course Rudolph, to help him, for some very practical reasons too!   

As to how they fly … well that’s all part of the magic and mystery of Christmas, so Believe ….

Have a wonderful Christmas!

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