What are the real names of two of Santa's reindeer?

July 14, 2016

Learned something interesting a few days ago when I was proofing my second book, The Legally Binding Christmas.  


There is a scene in the book where one of the characters boasts about being able to say the names of Santa's eight reindeer backward. When I was reading that section again, one reindeer name caught my attention. 


Have you ever looked at a word you've written and said, "I'm not sure that's spelled correctly?" Well, I do that a lot, and I did it when I looked at the name of the reindeer spelled "Donner." 


Was it really "Donner"? Or, could it be "Donder"? Or, "Dunder?" Or, something else that sounds similar? For the answer, I went to the source for all things magical, the Internet.


I knew there was a dispute over who actually authored the poem commonly known as, "Twas the Night Before Christmas." What I didn't know was that the names of two of the reindeer changed over time and that the change has been cited as part of the evidence that Clement Clark Moore was not the author, as he claimed, but rather, the author was Henry Livingston, Jr.  


Apparently, Donner and Blitzen were originally called "Dunder" and "Blixem," the supposed dutch words for "Thunder" and "Lightning." Livingston, it so happens, was Dutch.


Stacy Conradt wrote in her Mentalfloss.com post on this topic that her Google translator told her that the correct Dutch translations for thunder and lightning are "donder" and "bliksem."


So, if Clement Clark Moore were helping me proof my book, he'd say I spelled "Donner" correctly. If the Dutch were helping, not so much. It would be either "Dunder" or "Donder."


If you look at the name of the thunderous reindeer in various texts of the poem, you will find him as Dunder and Donner.  


I've no idea whether he's Dunder, Donder or Donner, and you can imagine the ideas spell check offered to me.  


I went with what I grew up with, which was Clement Moore's, "Donner." 


But when I chose my epigraph for the book, which was a few lines from the poem, I decided to leave the author name off. It drove my editor crazy, but hey, it's my book.


Bet you're probably saying, "It must take Landis a long time to proof a book." 






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