Tag Archives: Christmas

Surprising facts about Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

By Danielle Prostrollo


With the snowy weather around Norwich, it seems more and more appropriate to break out the Christmas tunes. And while we may not get enough snow to merit a fort or even a substantial snow angel, one of my favorite tunes is the classic, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

But the rosy nose has an interesting history that most people don’t know.

rudolph book

the Little Golden Book publication came out in 1958

The concept of Rudolph was first published in a 1939 booklet by Robert Lewis May for Montgomery Ward. May was a secular Jew from Upstate New York and the story was reworked into song-format in 1949 by May’s brother-in-law Johnny Marks (the man behind many of our Christmas hits – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, and Holly Jolly Christmas, for example) and recorded by Gene Autry.



still featuring Hermey the elf and Rudolph in the 1964 TV special

In the 1964 stop-motion TV special, Rudolph is a social outcast born to Donner (or Donder, if you prefer) and goes through many travails until he finds the elf who will become his close confidante – if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend searching it out on TV or streaming service!

But not everyone agrees that Donner is Rudolph’s father. Another retelling of the story places Rudolph directly under Blitzen in the family tree.

This TV special, made for America’s NBC network was filmed in Japan and other post-filming work done in Toronto, Canada. So it was a truly international undertaking.

The special veers away from the original 1939 book by May – and this is because the filmmakers didn’t have a copy of the original book to go off of, so they instead had to glean a story line from the song.


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Christmas in America: Palmer, Alaska

Palmer, Alaska

Matanuska Valley farm

A farm near Palmer in the Matanuska Valley. There are worse places to settle.

Today I’m checking out another small town out of the way of most people: Palmer, Alaska, in the gorgeous Matanuska-Susitna Valley. This place was basically wilderness until 1935, when FDR’s Federal Emergency Relief Administration chose 200 families out of the Great Lakes region to colonise it. (These were folks used to the cold.) They arrived, laid out their tents, and began clearing forest for farms. You can imagine what that first winter was like when I tell you that 120 babies were born there in the following year. Continue reading

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Christmas in America: Lāhainā

Lāhainā, Maui

Don’t hold out hope for a white Christmas in a town whose name means ‘cruel sun’. But drop in on the town of Lahaina and you’ll experience a holiday tradition that says as much about community as about adaptation.

Lahaina oceanfront

Lahaina oceanfront

In the 1820s, the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii was a hot, dusty village called Lāhainā. Whaling boats frequented the waters, sheltered by other islands from harsh weather. The village soon became a port of call for thousands of sailors. Buildings went up on the model of New England towns, bars did well, and related businesses flourished. Herman Melville, author of the whaling saga Moby Dick, was one such sailor. At one point Lāhainā was the center of the global whaling industry. Continue reading

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Christmas in America: Austin and San Antonio

Today I’ve chosen two Texan cities that both have great holiday traditions.

San Antonio, TX

On the west edge of downtown San Antonio is El Mercado, or the market square: the heart of shopping and the location of vibrant festivals and cultural activities. It’s a little bit of Mexico in Texas. (Just as, not all that long ago, Texas was a little bit of Mexico, prior to being its own republic in 1836. Then it joined the U.S. in 1845, sixteen years before seceeding.) Continue reading

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