CHICAGO -- The 1821 illustrated children's poem "Old Santeclaus with Much Delight" has the first known mention of a reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh.
The much more famous poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," better known as "Twas the Night Before Christmas," gave Santa eight reindeer.
One verse names the reindeer: "Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On Comet! On Cupid! On Dunder and Blixem!"
Dunder and Blixem are Dutch words for thunder and lightning. The names were later changed to the more familiar Donner and Blitzen.
In 1939, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was created by Robert May for Chicago department store Montgomery Ward. After looking at the thick fog rolling off Lake Michigan one day, May was inspired to create Santa's 9th reindeer with a "nose so bright."
Over the years, Rudolph grew in popularity, appearing in multiple books, films, TV specials and songs.
Fun Fact: According to scientists, Santa's reindeer should be female, since males shed their antlers before Christmas.