Santa and his sleigh flying above a sleepy village on Christmas eve - a 1906 vintage illustration
06-16-2016

A Brief History of Mrs. Claus, the North Pole and the Reindeer

Everyone knows that Santa Claus lives in the North Pole and works with elves, and everyone knows that sometime in the wee morning hours of the morning of December 25, Santa Claus is coming to town, but behind every great man there is a woman. The woman is Mrs. Santa Claus, the pillar behind the legend. Just who is Mrs. Santa Claus? Where did she come from and what does she do?

Origin of Mrs. Claus

While Harper's New Monthly Magazine made mention of Santa going on a date in its March 1881 issue, it was Katherine Lee Bates who felt that Santa must have a wife who helps him. The writer of "America the Beautiful," Katherine published a poem called "Goody Santa Claus, A Sleigh Ride." A picture of Mrs. Claus appeared by her poem. Through the years the poem circulated and the idea of Mrs. Claus as Santa's wife began to be popular.

Mrs. Claus in Song

Mrs. Claus' popularity picked up in 1956 when George Melachrino wrote a song called "Mrs. Santa Claus." It tells the story of what Mrs. Claus does at the North Pole. The baking and preparation she does for Santa and his elves gave her more substance and helped make her a star in her own right.

Mrs. Claus: TV and Movie Star

Television and movies added dimension to Mrs. Santa Claus. She appeared in several Rankin/Bass, Christmas specials. In Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Mrs. Claus (as Jessica the school teacher) and Kris Kringle meet and together help to deliver toys. While doing so, they fall in love and get married. In The Year Without a Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus works to show Santa that there is a Christmas Spirit left in the world. In the1996 television show Mrs. Santa Claus, Angela Lansbury leaves Santa and works for women and children's rights. Mrs. Claus' movie credits include The Santa Claus and The Santa Claus 2.

Mrs. Claus Today

Today, Mrs. Claus is a popular figure at Christmas who now appears in malls across the world with her husband. She not only makes cookies; she is the person who helps organize the lists and toys for Santa, as well as helping her husband prepare for his big Christmas sleigh ride. She is an icon in her own right.

Santa and His Reindeer

Santa's 8 tiny reindeer live at the North Pole along with Santa Claus, Mrs. Santa Claus, and the elves. They have a very important job each Christmas, for without the reindeer, Santa Claus isn't coming to town. However, Santa didn't always have these helpful creatures to help him bring toys to boys and girls each Christmas.

The Reindeers' Origin

When St. Nicholas first began to appear in old European lore, he traveled with a goat like creature that not only helped deliver toys, but also punished naughty kids. Over the years, customs changed as a more puritan way of life was accepted. A poem by William Gentry mentioned Santa being pulled by flying reindeer. However the actual names of the reindeer were first printed in a poem in 1823 in the Troy Sentinel called "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Controversy surrounds who exactly wrote the poem, but the poem and the names of the 8 tiny reindeer remain a favorite poem that is read each Christmas.

The Reindeer and the North Pole

People over time began to wonder just where the reindeer would graze, given that the North Pole is ice. In 1925, newspapers revealed that the flying reindeer in fact lived in Finnish Lapland. However, popular legend still tells of the reindeer living with Santa Claus and Mrs. Santa Claus at the North Pole. The movie "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" further showed how the reindeer lived with Santa.

The 8 Reindeer and The Others

The order of the 8 tiny reindeer from the front to the back is: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. Each reindeer has his or her own personality and function in the group. In 1939, Robert L. May, a clerk for Montgomery Ward, created a poem about a reindeer named Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Rudolph quickly became a loved symbol of Christmas. Other reindeer were talked about over the years in poems, songs, and movies.

Even though other reindeer have been added to the 8 tiny reindeer over the years, the original 8 are never forgotten. Their story is told and re-printed every year. As legend says, without those 8 tiny reindeer, boys and girls around the world would not get their gifts from Santa Claus.

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