Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rudolph the recent reindeer

Rudolph, of the red-noses, has been a staple of Christmas as far back as I can remember. And I'm an atheist/Jew, so figure that out. But, it turns out that ol' Rudolph has only been around since the mid-1940s. Yup, the story was created for Montgomery Ward in 1939, made in to a song in the late 1940s and was first broadcast on television in 1964 (see the jump there). It has since had no real peaks or valleys, although the sleigh ride seems to be slowing a bit in recent years.

More interesting, however, is a chart for reindeer.

Of particular note is the threefold jump in the late 1890s. Anyone want to venture a guess as to why reindeer were in the news then? The answer is the gold rush in the Klondike which, apparently, needed a hardy, cold-weather pack animal.

The rest of the variation seems to be based on the commercialism of Christmas (with Rudolph et al at the forefront), which rose in the 1920s, fell with the depression and the war, and rose again in the post-war boom.

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