Donder. Not Donner, DONDER.

by DaniGirl on December 20, 2006 · 48 comments

in Rants and rambles

“You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen;
Comet and Cupid and DONDER and Blitzen…”

Ah yes, it’s that time of year again. Those of you who know me well are rolling your eyes and saying “oh no, not the reindeer thing again.”

Yes, the reindeer thing again. If I can educate just ONE person each year about the correct names of Santa’s eight reindeer, my work here will be done.

I had a post half-typed up about this when I realized that I’ve done all this before. Why reinvent the wheel when I can just cut and paste my post from last year? I wrote:

As you might know, my last name is Donders. As such, it has been my lifelong quest to set the record straight and right the wrongs entrenched by Johnny Marks and Gene Autry.

Here’s a little history lesson for you. The poem “A Visit From St Nicholas”, commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas”, was written back in 1823 and is generally attributed to American poet Clement Clarke Moore (although there have been recent arguments that the poem was in fact written by his contemporary Henry Livingston Jr.)

The original poem reads, in part:

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on Dunder and Blixem!

As explained on the Donder Home Page (no relation):

In the original publication of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1823 in the Troy Sentinel “Dunder and Blixem” are listed as the last two reindeer. These are very close to the Dutch words for thunder and lightning, “Donder and Bliksem”. Blixem is an alternative spelling for Bliksem, but Dunder is not an alternative spelling for Donder. It is likely that the word “Dunder” was a misprint. Blitzen’s true name, then, might actually have been “Bliksem”.

In 1994, the Washington Post delved into the matter (sorry for the noisy link – it’s the only copy I could find online) by sending a reporter to the Library of Congress to reference the source material.

We were successful. In fact, Library of Congress reference librarian David Kresh described Donner/Donder as “a fairly open-and-shut case.” As we marshaled the evidence near Alcove 7 in the Library’s Main Reading Room a few days ago, it quickly became clear that Clement Clarke Moore, author of “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” wanted to call him (or her?) “Donder.” Never mind that editors didn’t always cooperate.
[…]
Further confirmation came quickly. In “The Annotated Night Before Christmas,” which discusses the poem in an elegantly illustrated modern presentation, editor Martin Gardner notes that the “Troy Sentinel” used “Dunder”, but dismisses this as a typo. Gardner cites the 1844 spelling as definitive, but also found that Moore wrote “Donder” in a longhand rendering of the poem penned the year before he died: “That pretty well sews it up,” concluded Kresh.

So there you have it. This Christmas season, make sure you give proper credit to Santa’s seventh reindeer.

On DONDER and Blitzen. It’s a matter of family pride


{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 nancy December 20, 2006 at 2:39 pm

Not the reindeer thing…AGAIN????

2 nancy December 20, 2006 at 2:39 pm

Not the reindeer thing…AGAIN????

3 nancy December 20, 2006 at 2:39 pm

Not the reindeer thing…AGAIN????

4 nancy December 20, 2006 at 2:39 pm

Not the reindeer thing…AGAIN????

5 nancy December 20, 2006 at 2:39 pm

P.S. Rudolph? or Rudolf?

6 nancy December 20, 2006 at 2:39 pm

P.S. Rudolph? or Rudolf?

7 nancy December 20, 2006 at 2:39 pm

P.S. Rudolph? or Rudolf?

8 nancy December 20, 2006 at 2:39 pm

P.S. Rudolph? or Rudolf?

9 Not So Little Sister December 20, 2006 at 4:03 pm

How very educational! Thanks!

10 Not So Little Sister December 20, 2006 at 4:03 pm

How very educational! Thanks!

11 Not So Little Sister December 20, 2006 at 4:03 pm

How very educational! Thanks!

12 Not So Little Sister December 20, 2006 at 4:03 pm

How very educational! Thanks!

13 twinmomplusone December 20, 2006 at 6:15 pm

here she goes again with the reindeer thing :~)
I can’t stop thinking of you whenever I hear or see the reindeer’s names

14 twinmomplusone December 20, 2006 at 6:15 pm

here she goes again with the reindeer thing :~)
I can’t stop thinking of you whenever I hear or see the reindeer’s names

15 twinmomplusone December 20, 2006 at 6:15 pm

here she goes again with the reindeer thing :~)
I can’t stop thinking of you whenever I hear or see the reindeer’s names

16 twinmomplusone December 20, 2006 at 6:15 pm

here she goes again with the reindeer thing :~)
I can’t stop thinking of you whenever I hear or see the reindeer’s names

17 Charles Bowser December 20, 2006 at 6:43 pm

Yea!!!!!!! Every year I tell my wife the same thing. No one believes me. As to the Blitzen issue. It comes from the German. Blitz means lightning.
Oops…I just looked it up in the English-German dictionary at:
http://www.iee.et.tu-dresden.de/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/wernerr/search.sh?string=thunder&nocase=on&hits=50
I found these
there was no thunder nor lightning — es donnerte und blitzte nicht.
From this though it is possible that the name is in fact donner because:
thunder — der Donner
But in Dutch, if you look online
Thunder = Donder
Either way the two last Reindeer’s names are Thunder and Lightining in any language.

18 Charles Bowser December 20, 2006 at 6:43 pm

Yea!!!!!!! Every year I tell my wife the same thing. No one believes me. As to the Blitzen issue. It comes from the German. Blitz means lightning.
Oops…I just looked it up in the English-German dictionary at:
http://www.iee.et.tu-dresden.de/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/wernerr/search.sh?string=thunder&nocase=on&hits=50
I found these
there was no thunder nor lightning — es donnerte und blitzte nicht.
From this though it is possible that the name is in fact donner because:
thunder — der Donner
But in Dutch, if you look online
Thunder = Donder
Either way the two last Reindeer’s names are Thunder and Lightining in any language.

19 Charles Bowser December 20, 2006 at 6:43 pm

Yea!!!!!!! Every year I tell my wife the same thing. No one believes me. As to the Blitzen issue. It comes from the German. Blitz means lightning.
Oops…I just looked it up in the English-German dictionary at:
http://www.iee.et.tu-dresden.de/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/wernerr/search.sh?string=thunder&nocase=on&hits=50
I found these
there was no thunder nor lightning — es donnerte und blitzte nicht.
From this though it is possible that the name is in fact donner because:
thunder — der Donner
But in Dutch, if you look online
Thunder = Donder
Either way the two last Reindeer’s names are Thunder and Lightining in any language.

20 Charles Bowser December 20, 2006 at 6:43 pm

Yea!!!!!!! Every year I tell my wife the same thing. No one believes me. As to the Blitzen issue. It comes from the German. Blitz means lightning.
Oops…I just looked it up in the English-German dictionary at:
http://www.iee.et.tu-dresden.de/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/wernerr/search.sh?string=thunder&nocase=on&hits=50
I found these
there was no thunder nor lightning — es donnerte und blitzte nicht.
From this though it is possible that the name is in fact donner because:
thunder — der Donner
But in Dutch, if you look online
Thunder = Donder
Either way the two last Reindeer’s names are Thunder and Lightining in any language.

21 Charles Bowser December 20, 2006 at 7:25 pm

Me again, you will love this. Check out this page. The donder wins.
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pointe/9352/christmas-donder.html

22 Charles Bowser December 20, 2006 at 7:25 pm

Me again, you will love this. Check out this page. The donder wins.
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pointe/9352/christmas-donder.html

23 Charles Bowser December 20, 2006 at 7:25 pm

Me again, you will love this. Check out this page. The donder wins.
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pointe/9352/christmas-donder.html

24 Charles Bowser December 20, 2006 at 7:25 pm

Me again, you will love this. Check out this page. The donder wins.
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pointe/9352/christmas-donder.html

25 Renee December 20, 2006 at 7:40 pm

Yeah, Donder is my favorite reindeer! Did I mention that ?

26 Renee December 20, 2006 at 7:40 pm

Yeah, Donder is my favorite reindeer! Did I mention that ?

27 Renee December 20, 2006 at 7:40 pm

Yeah, Donder is my favorite reindeer! Did I mention that ?

28 Renee December 20, 2006 at 7:40 pm

Yeah, Donder is my favorite reindeer! Did I mention that ?

29 Michelle December 20, 2006 at 10:48 pm

I had no idea about the history with the Troy Sentinel but always wondered why I saw it printed as “Donner” so often when it was clearly supposed to be “Donder” (I know enough German to figure that one out, what else is a Wagner opera good for?)
Go get ’em. One blog can change the world.

30 Michelle December 20, 2006 at 10:48 pm

I had no idea about the history with the Troy Sentinel but always wondered why I saw it printed as “Donner” so often when it was clearly supposed to be “Donder” (I know enough German to figure that one out, what else is a Wagner opera good for?)
Go get ’em. One blog can change the world.

31 Michelle December 20, 2006 at 10:48 pm

I had no idea about the history with the Troy Sentinel but always wondered why I saw it printed as “Donner” so often when it was clearly supposed to be “Donder” (I know enough German to figure that one out, what else is a Wagner opera good for?)
Go get ’em. One blog can change the world.

32 Michelle December 20, 2006 at 10:48 pm

I had no idea about the history with the Troy Sentinel but always wondered why I saw it printed as “Donner” so often when it was clearly supposed to be “Donder” (I know enough German to figure that one out, what else is a Wagner opera good for?)
Go get ’em. One blog can change the world.

33 jo(e) December 20, 2006 at 11:21 pm

How did I miss this last year? Maybe I was drinking too much eggnog.
I am taking a black felt marker and correcting the picture book I’ve got RIGHT NOW.

34 jo(e) December 20, 2006 at 11:21 pm

How did I miss this last year? Maybe I was drinking too much eggnog.
I am taking a black felt marker and correcting the picture book I’ve got RIGHT NOW.

35 jo(e) December 20, 2006 at 11:21 pm

How did I miss this last year? Maybe I was drinking too much eggnog.
I am taking a black felt marker and correcting the picture book I’ve got RIGHT NOW.

36 jo(e) December 20, 2006 at 11:21 pm

How did I miss this last year? Maybe I was drinking too much eggnog.
I am taking a black felt marker and correcting the picture book I’ve got RIGHT NOW.

37 Sharon December 20, 2006 at 11:49 pm

Rolls eyes..
If you want to be named after a Reindeer be my guest. (I can even sing that song now without saying donder) RATZENBUGER!
😉
Merry Christmas Dani!

38 Sharon December 20, 2006 at 11:49 pm

Rolls eyes..
If you want to be named after a Reindeer be my guest. (I can even sing that song now without saying donder) RATZENBUGER!
😉
Merry Christmas Dani!

39 Sharon December 20, 2006 at 11:49 pm

Rolls eyes..
If you want to be named after a Reindeer be my guest. (I can even sing that song now without saying donder) RATZENBUGER!
😉
Merry Christmas Dani!

40 Sharon December 20, 2006 at 11:49 pm

Rolls eyes..
If you want to be named after a Reindeer be my guest. (I can even sing that song now without saying donder) RATZENBUGER!
😉
Merry Christmas Dani!

41 krista December 21, 2006 at 4:39 am

Colour me informed! I had no idea.

42 krista December 21, 2006 at 4:39 am

Colour me informed! I had no idea.

43 krista December 21, 2006 at 4:39 am

Colour me informed! I had no idea.

44 krista December 21, 2006 at 4:39 am

Colour me informed! I had no idea.

45 The Fryman December 21, 2006 at 6:52 am

D –
Did you see/watch Studio 60?? They had the Donder/Blitzen argument and I laughed WAY too hard which led M to ask why…and I explained your obsession/compulsion/mission with respect to Donder. I will carry the Donder torch for you out West..even if it means everyone laughing at me the way they do at you….

46 The Fryman December 21, 2006 at 6:52 am

D –
Did you see/watch Studio 60?? They had the Donder/Blitzen argument and I laughed WAY too hard which led M to ask why…and I explained your obsession/compulsion/mission with respect to Donder. I will carry the Donder torch for you out West..even if it means everyone laughing at me the way they do at you….

47 The Fryman December 21, 2006 at 6:52 am

D –
Did you see/watch Studio 60?? They had the Donder/Blitzen argument and I laughed WAY too hard which led M to ask why…and I explained your obsession/compulsion/mission with respect to Donder. I will carry the Donder torch for you out West..even if it means everyone laughing at me the way they do at you….

48 The Fryman December 21, 2006 at 6:52 am

D –
Did you see/watch Studio 60?? They had the Donder/Blitzen argument and I laughed WAY too hard which led M to ask why…and I explained your obsession/compulsion/mission with respect to Donder. I will carry the Donder torch for you out West..even if it means everyone laughing at me the way they do at you….

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