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The legend of Santa's reindeer was created in a famous poem by Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863). Clement was the son of the bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York. The poem "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" was written as a Christmas gift for his children in 1822. The poem is currently better known by the title "The Night Before Christmas" from its famous opening line.
Santa has eight reindeer, who magically pull his sleigh through the sky. They are named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen.
Another, perhaps now more famous, reindeer used by Santa on foggy nights is Rudolf. The story of Rudolf the red-nosed Reindeer was created by Robert L May in 1939, in a give-away booklet for the Montgomery Ward department stores chain of Chicago where he worked. Rudolf the red-nosed Reindeer was then made famouse by the song recorded by Gene Autry in 1949. Read more about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer here.
Here is an extract from Clement Clarke Moore's famous work:-
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.