Merry Christmas


ReindeerDid you know that Rudolph had a day just to himself - 2nd Dec - It's Red-Nosed Reindeer Day ! The lovable Reindeer, Rudolph justly deserves a day to himself after capturing the hearts of millions around the globe with his shiny nose ! Take this wonderful opportunity to wish your close ones a festive and cheerful beginning to the winter season.

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Reindeer has come to be associated with Christmas, riding the tradition of the Santa Claus. As Santa is believed to have come from the far away North, what else than a reindeer drawn sledge can serve as a better carriage?

Santa on the slege of reindeers

It is man's most ancient herd animal, the first animals being raised around 15,000 years ago. Up until about 12,000 years ago, reindeer grazed over a vast area of Europe. Rock paintings by primitive peoples featuring them are widespread, as are discoveries of tools made from reindeer horn. there was even a period of European prehistory in a part of France called Dordogne that is sometimes called "the civilization of reindeer." The only surviving part of suchReindeers a civilization might be found in Lapland, which is the northern part of Norway, Sweden and Finland. There are only a few thousand Lapps, but they own herds of many thousands of reindeer. From them the Lapps obtain meat, milk, hair for weaving, hides to make tents and clothing, and horn, from which they make households. They are also used to pull heavily laden sleds. It is all these multiple uses that have made reindeer so endearing to people in the North. 

Caribou, the name by which the Americans are more familiar with reindeer, comes from an Indian word.

Reindeer and Caribou look different, but they probably are the same species. Caribou are large, wild, elk-like animals which can be found above the tree-line in arctic North America and Greenland. Because they can live on lichens in the winter they are very well adapted for the harsh arctic tundra where they migrate great distances each year. Caribou cows and bulls both grow distinctive antlers and bull antlers can reach 4 feet in width! A Caribou calf can run within 90 minutes of its birth. It must do this to keep up with the migrating herds.

Reindeer are slightly smaller and were domesticated in northern Eurasia about 2000 years ago.  Today, they are herded by many Arctic peoples in Europe and Asia including the Sami in Scandinavia and the Nenets, Chukchi and others in Russia. These  peoples depend on the reindeer for almost everything in their economy including food, clothing and shelter. Some Nenets even keep reindeer for pets!  Reindeer were introduced into Alaska and Canada last century, but most attempts failed.  Native peoples in these countries still prefer to hunt caribou rather than herd reindeer.

Reindeer and caribou have unique hairs which trap air providing them with excellent insulation. These hairs also help keep them buoyant in the water. They are very strong swimmers and can move across wide rushing rivers and even the frozen ice of the Arctic Ocean!

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