Posted by: travelrat | September 20, 2013


Reindeer 1

I was going to start posting about the Sami and the reindeer ride by saying that everybody knows about reindeer; they pull Santa’s sleigh. In many cultures, though, the sleigh is actually drawn by a white horse. Which stands to reason. In Norway, anyway, only the Sami people are allowed to own reindeer. Santa Claus morphed from St. Nicholas of Myra, who was Greek, therefore unlikely to be Sami. And, Myra was in modern Turkey … an area not really noted for its reindeer population.

Reindeer are found in the Arctic regions, and it’s not really true to say the Sami herd them. It’s more correct to say the reindeer herd wander where they will, and the Sami follow them.

The Sami depend on the reindeer for almost everything. Hides for their dwellings, or laavu, their clothing and their food. We didn’t get a chance to ‘eat Rudolf’, but on tours in other places, they did. I didn’t hear any reports on it, so I assume it would taste something like venison?

An important use for the reindeer is, of course, as a draught animal. Since the Sami follow the herds, they are, of necessity, a nomadic people, and moving their possessions would be almost impossible without the reindeer.

Another little factoid you can amaze your friends with. The reindeer is the only species of deer in which both sexes grow a full set of antlers … and the males lose theirs in winter! So, as depicted in many an illustration around Christmas … Donner, Blitzen & Co. must be … female!

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