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.' 

Status:  True. 

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 
Red-Nosed Reindeer":   

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...
Parley's Magazine  (1833-1844). New York: Jan 1, 1838. p. 374 (2 pages) :
...Donder and Blixen...
American Masonic Register and Literary  Companion (1839-1847). Albany: Jan 2, 
1841. Vol. 2, Iss. 18; p. 144 (1  page) :
...Dunder and Blixen...
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.

More information about the Ads-l mailing list