Sunday, December 16, 2007

Donner versus Donder

In a recent post, I named Santa's reindeer as follows:

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.

I was "corrected" by Michael that the name is "Donder" not "Donner". Although he is technically right, he should have also told me that it's "Blixem" not "Blitzen" (at least according to the first published version of the poem entitled "A Visit from St. Nicholas."

Let me quote the Donder homepage:

In the initial publication of the poem, Santa's last two reindeer were called "Dunder and Blixem". Later publications show the names "Donder and Blitzen". Martin Gardner, editor of The Annotated Night Before Christmas, points to a handwritten copy of the poem, written by Moore in the year before he died, in which he calls the reindeer "Donder and Blitzen". It is clear that Moore himself wanted the reindeer named Donder and Blitzen.

One hundred and sixteen years after Clement Clark Moore first named the reindeer, the name "Donner" replaced "Donder" in the publication of the 1939 story book Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, written by Robert L. May. A decade after the book was published "Donner" was further cemented into American consciousness when Gene Autry recorded Johnny Mark's song Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

"Donner" is Thunder and "Blitzen" is Lightning in German. So, I understand how the mistake occurred. Nevertheless, the poem was readily available to refer to in libraries across the country.
Now, although I completely respect the poets intention, I must let you all know that I think this debate is retarded. Donner and Blitzen make more sense! Thunder and lightning match perfectly well with the other reindeer...ESPECIALLY with the inclusion of Rudolph who, added in 1939 (WWII anyone?), was an (as far as I'm concerned) obvious attempt at commenting on the, then, current state of affairs with the Germans (read: Donner and Blitzen origins). The "red" nose and alienation possibly played into this thinking as well.

Henceforth, although acknowledging my Beefy Cat Angus friend's correction, I will continue to call "Donder" "Donner"...even though Mr. Clement Clark Moore MIGHT have intended it to be the other way around.

(Oh, by the way, did you all know that the current image we all know as "Santa" was originally made popular by Coca Cola and the aforementioned poem...almost exclusively?!)

"And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle."

1 comment:

Michael said...

I never knew about the Blixem thing, just the Donder thing.

Who knew?