Next to camels, reindeer are the most important animals in relation to Christmas. The story goes that Santa’s sleigh is pulled by 8 flying reindeer called Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen.
The most famous reindeer is Rudolph, though he was not part of the original story. He is normally depicted as the 9th Reindeer and takes the lead when pulling Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. The luminosity of his nose is so great that it illuminates the team’s path through very bad winter weather.
When you visit town centres in the run up to Christmas, it is quite likely you come across a sleigh with a couple of reindeer. In the Netherlands however often the reindeer are replaced by shire horses as they are more common. Reindeer are originally from the far northern parts of Europe and Russia, so seem quite well placed in Lapland where Santa is supposed to have his home.
The colour red is often linked with joy, well being and celebrations. Everyone will have heard of the red carpet, and in the old days cinemas and theaters had red seating. With Christmas red is one of the main colours, next to green and gold. The red is coming from ancient time when bishops were dressed in red. Santa Claus is created on the image of Saint Nicolas, a Greek Christian Bishop. As he was dressed in red so now is Santa Claus.
To complement Santa’s outfit his helpers (elves) are dressed in red too, but have instead of white, green as a second colour. The elves are the ones who look after the reindeer as well as making, wrapping and packing presents.
Another way to bring red into your home during Christmas is through poinsettia’s or Christmas Stars. This is a small plant, that flowers in the winter and has bright red flowers. Although they are not my favourite plant, they certainly bring colour into the house and will last longer than a bouquet of flowers.