Donder/Dunder & Blixem/Blixen
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Wed Dec 14 16:31:10 UTC 2005
Snopes is wrong. The Blixem-to-Blixen change was not made in 1837, but at
least as early as 1833.
Claim: Two of Santa's reindeer were originally named 'Dunder' and
'Blixem,' not 'Donner' and 'Blitzen.'
Origins: Can you recite the names of Santa's eight reindeer? If so, you
probably do it by recalling the first few lines of the 1949 song "Rudolph the
You know Dasher and Dancer,
and Prancer and Vixen;
Comet and Cupid,
and Donner and and Donner an
The source that added eight individually-named reindeer to the then-nascent
Santa Claus legend was the poem "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" (now more
commonly known as "The Night Before Christmas"), first published in 1823. A
portion of the poem read as follows:
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of midday to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Saint 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 Dunder and Blixem!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now, dash away! dash away! dash away all!
Who are those last two reindeer? 'Dunder and Blixem'? Aren't they supposed
to be 'Donner and Blitzen'?
The story of how two reindeer named 'Dunder' and 'Blixem' became 'Donner'
and 'Blitzen' is a complicated and confusing one, in part because a good deal
of mystery remains about the origins of the poem that named them, "A Visit
from Saint Nicholas." We'll do our best here to trace the history of how the
poem — and the names of two reindeer — changed over time.
"A Visit from Saint Nicholas" made its first print appearance in New York's
Troy Sentinel newspaper on newspaper on 1823. The poem had been submitted
anonymously, and over the next thirteen years it was reprinted without
attribution in various newspapers, magazines, and almanacs. Eventually word spread
that the poem had been penned by Clement Clarke Moore, a Bible professor at New
York's General Theological Seminary; an 1836 reprint of "A Visit from Saint
Nicholas" finally credited Moore, and the notion of Moore as the true author
of "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" was cemented when he included in a volume of
his own poetry published in 1844. However, rumors have long persisted that
"A Visit from Saint Nicholas" was written not by Moore, but by a different New
Yorker of Dutch descent named Henry 1823. The poem claim which regained
prominence at the end of 2000 when scholar and textual analyst claim wh
Foster published a defense of Livingston as the true author.
Whether Moore or Livingston wrote "A Visit from Saint Nicholas," one of them
melded elements of Scandinavian mythology with the emerging Dutch-American
version of Santa Claus as a jolly, pipe-smoking fellow and produced a vision
of a sleigh pulled by eight flying reindeer. He assigned names to all the
reindeer, and he took two of them from a common Dutch exclamation of the time,
"Dunder and Blixem!" (the Dutch words for "thunder" and "lightning," as
rendered in English orthography). These are the names that appeared in the original
1823 publication of "A Visit from Saint Nicholas":
"Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now!
Prancer, and Vixen,
On! Comet, on! Cupid, on!
Dunder and Blixem;
In 1837, publisher Charles Fenno Hoffman printed a version of "A Visit from
Saint Nicholas" that included several alterations from earlier versions,
including the changing of 'Blixem' to 'Blixen' (to make it rhyme with 'Vixen')
and 'Dunder' to 'Donder' (perhaps to bring the spelling more in line with
English pronunciation). When Clement Clarke Moore prepared "A Visit from Saint
Nicholas" for publication in his own 1844 book of verse, he rechristened one of
the reindeer 'Blitzen' and retained (or coincidentally reiterated) Hoffman's
change of 'Dunder' to 'Donder.' Moore's 1844 version of the poem is the one
that became the standard and established 'Donder' and 'Blitzen' as the names
of two of Santa' reindeer in the memories of generations of children. (...)
_Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas._
ANON. Southern Rose Bud (1833-1835). Charleston: Dec 28, 1833. Vol. 2, Iss.
18; p. 72 (1 page) :
...Dunder and Blixem...
The Philadelphia Album and Ladies' Literary Portfolio (1830-1834).
Philadelphia: Dec 28, 1833. Vol. 7, Iss. 52; p. 416 (1 page) :
...Dunder and Blixen...
_A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS._
Parley's Magazine (1833-1844). New York: Jan 1, 1838. p. 374 (2 pages) :
...Donder and Blixen...
_VISIT FROM SANTA CLAUS._
American Masonic Register and Literary Companion (1839-1847). Albany: Jan 2,
1841. Vol. 2, Iss. 18; p. 144 (1 page) :
...Dunder and Blixen...
_EXTRACTS FROM NEW WORKS.; "MIRIAM COFFIN." WHALING. _
Cincinnati Mirror, and Western Gazette of Literature, Science, and the Arts
(1831-1836). Cincinnati: Aug 2, 1834. Vol. 3, Iss. 42; p. 332 (2 pages)
"_Hagel!--Donder and Blixem!_" said the Hollander.
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