Photo Credit – Frans van Heerden

I have posted about reindeer before, but I felt compelled to revisit the subject because, well, the truth must be heard.

For starters, what’s the difference between reindeer and caribou? Nothing. Reindeer and caribou are the same animal. What we call them depends on location. They are called reindeer in Europe. In North America, it gets more complicated. Wild herds are called caribou, while the domesticated animals are called reindeer. Therefore, Santa’s domesticated animals are all called reindeer.

Yet here’s where it gets interesting. Based on the story of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, we have grown up thinking that Santa’s sled team is all male – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen and, of course, Rudolf. But for the record, the entire team is actually female.

Here’s why. As we know, reindeer are part of deer family. Like other members of the deer family, reindeer grow antlers. In the case of reindeer, though, BOTH males and females grow them and both shed them every year. BUT, male reindeer shed their antlers every November. Females, on the other hand, don’t shed theirs until calves are born – in May. All of the reindeer on Santa’s sled team still have their antlers at Christmastime, and therefore, they all must be female!

Like so many things in our past, it seems as though history needs to be rewritten. In the meantime, should you come across a reindeer with antlers in the coming weeks, say hello to HER.