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xKazz via YouTube

12 Very Shiny Facts About Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

xKazz via YouTube
xKazz via YouTube

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, and by now you certainly know Rudolph as well. But Rudolph wasn't always the star of the show—he didn't even exist until 1939, while the rest of Santa's coursers have been around since Clement Moore's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, which was written in 1823. Here are 12 other facts you might not know about the world's most famous reindeer.

1. RUDOLPH WAS CREATED FOR MONTGOMERY WARD.

In 1939, execs for the Montgomery Ward department store decided they needed a character for the freebie coloring books they were handing out to kids who visited Santa. That character ended up being Rudolph, who was an immediate hit with the kiddies. Montgomery Ward gave out 2.4 million copies of the Rudolph booklet in the first year alone.

2. THE WRITER WHO INVENTED THE CHARACTER WAS GOING THROUGH A DIFFICULT TIME.

Robert May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward’s mail order catalog division, was the employee tasked with writing a story and creating a marketable character for the coloring book. May started the process in early 1939, but that summer, his wife died from cancer, leaving him a widower with a 4-year-old daughter. Though his boss tried to reassign the project, May insisted on finishing it himself. “I needed Rudolph more than ever,” he later admitted. He completed the story in August. Though Montgomery Ward could have kept the copyright for themselves, they handed it over to a financially struggling May in 1947.

3. HE COULD HAVE BEEN ROLLO OR REGINALD INSTEAD OF RUDOLPH.

Other names were considered before May settled on the name we know today. Rollo was rejected for sounding too sunny and happy; Reginald sounded too British. Romeo and Rodney were also in the running.

4. MAY’S ORIGINAL STORY IS A BIT DIFFERENT THAN THE SONG.

In the story May told in that original coloring book, Santa finds Rudolph while delivering presents to the reindeer village. In the story, Santa often had problems delivering gifts because no one remembered to leave lights on for him—and in Rudolph’s dark house, Santa “tripped on the rug, and fell flat on his back.” When he discovers Rudolph and his glowing nose, a lightbulb of his own goes off, and he invites Rudolph to help him with the rest of his drop-offs. Dutiful Rudy leaves his parents a note, then helps save the day.

5. RUDOLPH ALMOST USED A DIFFERENT METHOD TO GUIDE SANTA’S SLEIGH.

Instead of having a red, glowing nose that cut through the fog, May considered giving Rudolph large, headlight-like eyes that would light the way. After much consideration, he decided mean kids would be more likely to make fun of a red nose than huge eyes.

6. FINLANDERS KNOW RUDOLPH AS PETTERI PUNAKUONO.

Peterri is Rudy's Finnish counterpart. The Finnish legend of Santa Claus (a.k.a. Joulupukki) doesn't name his reindeer the same way we do—Dasher, Dancer, Donner, and so on—so the beginning of the song doesn't start out the same way. Instead of running through the laundry list of reindeer, the Finnish version translates to something like, "You remember Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and the Grey Wolf, but this reindeer is often forgotten."

7. RUDOLPH HAS A SON NAMED ROBBIE.

At least, he does according to the BBC. They developed three cartoons based on Rudolph's offspring, but the name of Robbie's famous dad is never actually mentioned. The plotline tells us that the villain of the series, Blitzen, can't stand to hear Rudolph's name. In reality, it's because the BBC couldn't get permission to use it (or didn't want to pay to use it).

If you haven't seen the British version but still remember Robbie, that's because Fox Family ran the show for a few years in the early '00s with redubbed voices, including Ben Stiller as Robbie, Hugh Grant as Blitzen, Britney Spears as Donner, and Brad Garrett as Prancer.

8. THE RUDOLPH SONG WAS RECORDED A DECADE AFTER THE CHARACTER WAS INVENTED.

It was May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, who wrote the lyrics for the famous song; Gene Autry recorded it. Autry nearly passed on the tune, but his wife urged him to give it a shot. With more than 150 million copies sold, it’s now the second-best selling Christmas song ever, right behind Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”

9. SONGWRITER JOHNNY MARKS SPECIALIZED IN CHRISTMAS SONGS.

We have him to thank for Rudolph, obviously, but also "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Silver and Gold" and "A Holly Jolly Christmas" (in addition to a bunch of lesser-known Christmas songs). The irony? Marks was Jewish.

10. RANKIN/BASS WASN’T THE FIRST TO FEATURE RUDOLPH ONSCREEN.

Though the 1964 Rankin/Bass stop-motion TV special is the longest-running holiday special ever, it wasn't the first to bring Rudolph to the screen. That honor goes to Fleischer Studios, which copyrighted this cartoon in 1948 as more advertising for Montgomery Ward:

11. THE PUPPETS USED IN THE RANKIN/BASS SHOW WERE RECENTLY REDISCOVERED.

When they resurfaced, they did so on Antiques Roadshow in 2006. Well, not all of them—just Santa and Rudolph. A woman who worked for Rankin/Bass had stored them in her attic since at least the 1970s. Prior to that, she let her kids play with them. Rudolph lost his red nose, and let’s not even talk about how Santa lost his eyebrows. The puppets were fully restored after their trip to Antiques Roadshow and have since been displayed at the Center for Puppetry Arts. The new owner hopes the puppets can go on tour so more people can enjoy them.

12. THE SONG IS STILL COPYRIGHTED.

Along with "Jingle Bells," "Deck the Halls," and "Silent Night", “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is a Christmas staple. Unlike those other three songs, however, “Rudolph” is still copyrighted and his image is trademarked. The makers of Rudolph’s Reserve ale found this out the hard way in 2003. They later changed the name to “Rude Elf’s Reserve.”

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Yes, You Can Put Your Christmas Decorations Up Now—and Should, According to Psychologists
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We all know at least one of those people who's already placing an angel on top of his or her Christmas tree while everyone else on the block still has paper ghosts stuck to their windows and a rotting pumpkin on the stoop. Maybe it’s your neighbor; maybe it’s you. Jolliness aside, these early decorators tend to get a bad rap. For some people, the holidays provide more stress than splendor, so the sight of that first plastic reindeer on a neighbor's roof isn't exactly a welcome one.

But according to two psychoanalysts, these eager decorators aren’t eccentric—they’re simply happier. Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told UNILAD:

“Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, most commonly for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.

In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood.

Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extend the excitement!”

Amy Morin, another psychoanalyst, linked Christmas decorations with the pleasures of childhood, telling the site: “The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity. For many, putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods.”

She also explained that these nostalgic memories can help remind people of spending the holidays with loved ones who have since passed away. As Morin remarked, “Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual.”

And that neighbor of yours who has already been decorated since Halloween? Well, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, homes that have been warmly decorated for the holidays make the residents appear more “friendly and cohesive” compared to non-decorated homes when observed by strangers. Basically, a little wreath can go a long way.

So if you want to hang those stockings before you’ve digested your Thanksgiving dinner, go ahead. You might just find yourself happier for it.

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11 Posters Worth Gifting This Holiday Season
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A good poster can make all the difference when it comes to decor. Posters are a cost-effective and fun way to add color, tie together a room, and show off the owner’s personality. If you want to help a loved one track down a poster that doesn’t look like it’s straight out of a college dorm room, here are 11 prints we suggest gifting:

1. 100 ESSENTIAL FILMS SCRATCH-OFF CHART; $35


Pop Chart Lab

Pop Chart Lab’s scratch-off prints are a fun way to put a personal touch on a room. The Essential Films edition serves as a ready-made must-watch list, with 100 incredible films—new and old. As your loved one watches, they can scratch off the gray squares of the poster to reveal the illustrations below. Once they're done, they’ve got a checkerboard visualization of great movies from Casablanca to Mad Max: Fury Road.

Find It: Pop Chart Lab

2. RETRO PATENTS; $33 AND UP

A framed patent of the Nintendo Game Boy sits against a wall.
Retro Patents

Gadget-lovers will swoon over these patent illustration posters, which feature the original patent drawings submitted for now-familiar technology like handheld cameras, record players, Tamagotchi, Game Boys, and more. The black-and-white drawings are accompanied by the name of the inventor and the date of the patent. Many of them are limited editions, so make sure to grab ‘em before they’re gone.

Find It: Retro Patents

3. DINOSAURIA; $37


Pop Chart Lab

Your favorite paleontology fan will love diving into this encyclopedic poster of dinosaur types, which catalogs more than 100 types of dinos in hand-drawn illustrations. Painstakingly researched, the work classifies 700 genera of prehistoric creatures into a taxonomy that’s sure to make your beloved science nerd’s heart beat faster.

Find It: Pop Chart Lab

4. REALLY BIG COLORING POSTER; $40

Two children lay on a giant coloring-book-style map of America
Great2bColorful, Amazon

Coloring books make great gifts for all ages, but coloring posters make even better ones. This giant, 5-foot-by-3-foot poster will keep your favorite young artist busy for hours filling in notable icons of all 50 states, from the Hollywood sign to the Statue of Liberty. And once they’re done, they have a colorful mural to put up in their room.

Find It: Amazon

5. SPACE GRAND TOUR; $22

Eight vintage-style travel posters advertising space destinations
JPL/NASA

Get excited for the future. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory designed these out-of-this-world prints, creating futuristic tourism posters for celestial destinations that, for the most part, humans have yet to reach.They’re part science geekery, part vintage travel homage, and the poster versions are the perfect gift for any future astronaut. Of course, they’re so pretty that even the least physics-inclined people on your gift list will still appreciate them.

Find It: Amazon

6. BETWEEN THE WORDS; $63

A spiral of punctuation on a poster that reads ‘Moby Dick; Or, The Whale.’
Nicholas Rougeux

Nicholas Rougeux’s Between the Words posters are minimalist takes on visualizing classic literature. Instead of trying to encapsulate the story, he focuses on what’s between the words: the punctuation. Each poster depicts every punctuation mark—in order—used in well-known books like Moby Dick, Jane Eyre, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Separated only by chapter markers, the punctuation marks spiral around a central illustration. Sticklers for good grammar will love exploring the dense punctuation patterns of books like A Tale of Two Cities and Ulysses, designs that provide a whole new insight into the writing techniques of famous authors.

Find It: Zazzle

7. “I LOVE” CITY MAPS; $21 AND UP


Jordan Sondler

Help your favorite urbanite show their city pride with New York-based illustrator Jordan Sondler’s whimsical maps of places like Boston, Chicago, and Seattle. Available in several different base colors, they divide major American metropolises into neighborhoods dotted with illustrated versions of iconic local architecture.

Find It: Minted

8. SKIES ABOVE CUSTOM STAR CHART; $130

A framed poster that reads 'Natalie and Morgan' with a star chart above in dark blue
Asterism Labs, Etsy

Baltimore-based data designer and former astrophysicist Katie Peek specializes in custom star charts that put a unique spin on a special day. They can highlight what the night sky looked like on the day of a wedding, a birthday, or during the last solar eclipse, customized to where the event took place. You can also ask her to commemorate the celestial view from any other time and place using her custom algorithms.

Find It: Etsy

9. PLEATINGS PRINT; $53

A graphic print shows gray shapes with lines running through them
Dry Studios

These abstract posters from the Stockholm-based Dry Studios are designed to create art using natural light in your house. The folded paper casts shadows when the sunlight hits them, turning the poster into changing graphic scenes throughout the day. They come in two different color schemes, one warm and one cold, to mimic the color change between day and night.

Find It: Dry Studios

10. LAW & MOORE MOVIE POSTERS; $12 AND UP

Three framed posters sitting on a table
Law & Moore, Etsy

The designers at Law & More specialize in pop culture posters that put a unique spin on beloved movies and TV shows from all genres, from Rocky to Stranger Things to Mary Poppins. Designed like vintage book covers, each features a minimalist illustration of the film along with the name of its creators. Whether you’re shopping for a James Bond aficionado or a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll be able to find a classy poster to show off their entertainment tastes.

Find It: Etsy

11. CONSTITUTIONS OF CLASSIC COCKTAILS; $37

A beige poster features a circular visualization of cocktail ingredients
Pop Chart Lab

Perfect for in the kitchen or near the bar cart, this infographic is a cheat sheet for becoming a mixology master. It illustrates how to throw together 60 different classic cocktails, organizing them by the type of liquor used to make them. Your favorite cocktail party host can use it to learn how to make a proper Rob Roy or Old Fashioned, or to help guests decide what they want to drink: just pick a base alcohol and go from there.

Find It: Pop Chart Lab

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