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Home* News and Stories → Why Santa Claus’ reindeer come from Spitsbergen. And why this can’t be true.

Why Santa Claus’ reindeer come from Spitsbergen. And why this can’t be true.

Christmas is a time of love, family and healthy food. Presents, trees and… mystery. Or do you know how Santa Claus manages to visit far more than a billion children around the globe? Even if you take those out who have been naughty or who maybe don’t want (or are not allowed to) have anything to do with Christmas – there is still a lot of work to do for the old man.

Sharon George of the Keele University in England has done some science to find answers to such questions. She proposes that Santa Claus pulls some quantum physics tricks out of his bag. Just Quantum tunnelling alone may reduce the distance he has to travel by something near 50 %.

Do I hear you shout “yes, of course, I should have known”?

But still, Father Christmas has to make his way at a breakneck speed of 15,625 kilometres per hour (9,708 mph), to get everything done that is on his impressive to-do list. According to George, he makes good use of bundling the shock waves of the thunder that comes from breaking through the sonic wall. Something happens shortly after some initial scratching of the snow with the hooves by the reindeer, as they have to be 10 times faster than sound to get things done.

It is safe to assume that the sledge is made of some nickel-titanium alloy to survive the mechanical challenges that come with such travelling. Friction between air and the nose of the very first reindeer will heat the latter up until it is glowing red-hot, a fact that readily explains some anatomic particulars of Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer.

Arctic Christmas

Merry Christmas! Drawing by Norbert Wachter from the book Arktische Weihnachten.

So far, so good. But then the scientist makes a mistake as she says that Santa Claus’ reindeer, including the famous, above-mentioned Rudolf, come from Spitsbergen. She argues that only the Spitsbergen reindeer is small and leightweight enough so it can wait on the roof of any house while the boss is kreeping down the chimney to get his job done. Any other – heavier – reindeer would just break through the roof, something that might bring the schedule of the whole operation into some serious trouble.

As plausible as this may seem – it can’t be true. Why? This is something that the present author has discussed in his book “Arktische Weihnachten” (German only, sorry!). The relevant text section comes at the end of the book and it is agailable here (click to download).

Just in case you don’t read German: reflect for a moment about when male reindeer shed their antlers. Yes, it’s after the mating season, which is in late September and into October. This means that male reindeer from the northern hemisphere don’t have big antlers at Christmas. Rudolf and his colleagues have to come from the southern hemisphere!

Where would that be? Well, the whalers introduced Norwegian reindeer to South Georgia. But there, they were killed off some years ago. A stock was, however, preserved in the Falkland Islands. So the simple truth is: Santa Claus’ reindeer come from the Falkland Islands! And so does probably the man himself, as he has to take care of his reindeer also the rest of the year, doesn’t he?

Happy Christmas!

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last modification: 2018-12-27 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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