Who runs the sleigh, Girls!


Staff Writer Oceane Jones, a sophomore at AHS.

Clement Clarke Moore first introduced the eight mystical chauffeurs of Santa’s sleigh in his 1823 poem titled “A Visit from Saint Nicholas.” Historians credit Moore with first introducing the idea of Santa’s reindeer and creating their names and various attributes. However, reindeers were part of the Christmas spirit long before 1823, appearing in Pegan mythology and joining the Christmas celebrations when the Pagans converted to Christianity in the Middle Ages. Reindeers or caribou represent safe journeying and endurance through travels in the Pegan culture, making them the perfect candidates to pull Santa Claus’ sleigh. 

However, this fable of the nine reindeer who bravely pull Santa’s sleigh around the world on Christmas Eve has one major misconception. These reindeer, traditionally depicted as male, are female. According to Edinburgh University professors Gerald Lincoln, David Baird, and Andrew Hebda, a zoologist at the Nova Scotia Museum, the reindeers that pull Santa’s sleigh are female for one simple reason: their antlers. Male reindeers lose their antlers in the winter and females in the summer, meaning that the reindeers pulling Santa’s sleigh are underrated and under-recognized women. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen, and even the notorious Rudolf are female. This change in the gender of such a fundamental part of the holidays could bring recognition of feminism and celebrate all the strong, independent women who help the world go round today. 

Feminism denotes a belief in the political, economic, and cultural equality of women. This fight for gender equality can be traced back thousands of years to Ancient Greece with the women’s suffrage movement and continues to this day with the #MeToo movement, a growing awareness of women’s rights and equality sparked by the election of President Trump in 2016. So what does feminism have to do with a crew of magical reindeer?

It is somewhat obvious when researched that the reindeer that power Christmas are female, so why has their gender been misinterpreted for so long? The truth comes down to a basic fact in our society and a fundamental idea of feminism: the dominant gender has oppressed women for centuries, so how could women be strong enough to save Christmas? This revelation of the reindeer’s gender shows how our world is changing and how women’s equality is becoming more recognized in society. 

When talking about the female gender of all of Santa’s reindeer, it is impossible not to address Rudolf herself. In the 1964 film and Christmas cult classic ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, ‘ Rudolf falls in love with a female reindeer named Clarice. What could this mean to the LGBTQIA+ community if Rudolf is attracted to girls? What if Rudolf is lesbian? Although we have no way of proving this, as Rudolf’s only love interest appears in a film where the filmmakers incorrectly depict her as a male, it is interesting to consider.