Mother Reindeer.

Long ago, long before Father Christmas soared through our imagined skies in his reindeer-drawn sleigh, there was another legend that inspired the notion of Santa’s reindeer. As we know, the figure of Santa Claus is an amalgamation of legends and tales, unified by Coca-Cola in the 1930s into the present image of Father Christmas, copyright included, naturally. However, in the ancestral story, the protagonists were not male reindeer, but a Reindeer Mother who flew during the Winter Solstice. Unlike the males, the female does not lose her antlers in winter, thus it is she, with her large and sturdy antlers, who leads and protects the herd through the long, cold days. This mother was revered as “the life-giving mother” by the northern peoples, who depended on her for milk, food, clothing, and shelter, thereby keeping the tribe healthy. The legend, from the British Isles, Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia, and across the Bering Strait, transcended barriers and reached distant peoples both in space and time, but who understood the importance of the “Life-Giving Mother”.

La Madre Reno

The Reindeer Mother, who did not lose her antlers during winter, was seen by the northern peoples as a being capable of sustaining life, even surpassing the symbolic “death” of the Sun for three days. Since the Neolithic era, she was revered as a spiritual figure associated with the rebirth of the sun, fertility, and motherhood. Her antlers adorned shrines and altars, were buried in ceremonial tombs, and jewels bearing her image were created and worn with honor. Her figure was carved into stone megaliths, and her antlers often represented the tree of life, connecting the sun, the moon, and the stars. Although these images are often thought to be of male reindeer, it is more likely that they represent the Reindeer Mother, venerated by ancestral cultures from Scotland to Siberia and Mongolia. In many places, the legend of the Reindeer Mother is still alive and reindeer mothers are cared for with respect.

In the tales of many Nordic countries, there are no kings following a guiding star, but stories about the Reindeer Mother who, during the winter solstice, on the longest and darkest nights of the year, flew for three days carrying the light of life in her antlers, protecting it from the darkness until the arrival of the new year, when the days begin to lengthen with the rebirth of the sun god.

Thus, in the current tale of Santa Claus, it is not male reindeer that pull the sleigh, but female reindeer, as they keep their beautiful antlers. Rudolph, with his glowing nose, would be based on the Reindeer Mother, who cared for the Sun’s light during the three days when it “slept”, carrying it in her antlers and illuminating the darkness. The truth is, as often happens, the original story is much more beautiful and meaningful than the modern and commercial version we know now.

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Tom Bombadil