The most well-known names for the reindeer pulling Santa Claus' sleigh come from two sources. The names are:
All but the last name come from the poem: 'Twas the Night before Christmas
, commonly credited to Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863). It was actually written in 1807 by Major Henry Livingston, Jr. (1748-1828) with the title Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.
The names "Donner" and "Blitzen" were changed by Moore from "Dunder" and "Blixem." (See the related link for information on this poem's origin.)
The last name, Rudolph, comes from a story and coloring book Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer
that Robert L. May created in 1939 for his employer, the Montgomery Ward department store. The copyright for the story was later turned over to May, and his brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, wrote the well-known song that further popularized the character. Two of the reindeer names, Donner/Donder and Blitzen, are often the source of confusion, misspelling, and misinformation. The short facts are these: Donner/Donder and Blitzen were named ''Dunder'' and ''Blixem'' (the Dutch words for ''thunder'' and ''lightning'') in the original printing of "A Visit From St. Nicholas." In reprints of the poem, the names became ''Donder'' and ''Blixen,'' then ''Donder'' and ''Blitzen'' (the latter being German for ''lightning''). By the time Johnny Marks wrote "Rudolph," it was ''Donner'' and ''Blitzen'' (possibly because ''Donder'' was musically awkward). See Snopes.com for a thorough discussion.
In modern times, other reindeer have been named in books, movies, and television shows but none have become well-known and generally accepted members of the team. These other names include: (Please add names to this list if you know of other examples, and please add the origin of the name if you know it.)
Here is more from WikiAnswers contributors:
- Donner is German for "thunder," so Donner and Blitzen is effectively the same as Dunder and Blixem
(Actually, Blitzen is German for "thunder," not Donner).
- Donner does mean thunder in German whereas Blitzen means flash and the two together are used to describe thunder and lightning e.g. Es ist Blitz und Donner!
- Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen
- Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner (or Donder, or Dunder), and Blitzen (or Blixen, or Blixem) are the eight named by Clement C. Moore in "A Visit from St. Nicholas," and are the eight most commonly named. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, was "added to the team" after Johnny Marks wrote the popular song about him.
- Various books, TV shows, and movies over the years have named other reindeer (such as Olive, Fireball, and Clarice). None of them have become part of the popular legend since Rudolph, though.
- Santa's reindeer are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.
- Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen! Oh... and don't forget Rudolph!
- Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen... and do you recall the most famous reindeer of all??? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and good thing for Rudolph all of the reindeers like him.
- The ones that drive Santa's sleigh are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph. I bet Rudolph is younger than the others, though. There are other reindeer shown in books, TV shows and movies, but they don't drive the sleigh (unless one gets sick!).
- Most of you know about the most common reindeer Rudolph, but Santa has a reindeer called Olive. It wasn't an error as the people thought, but it is in fact one of his reindeer's names. The other ones are: Dasher, Donner, Comet, Cupid.