Thought I’d go Christmasy for December. =) So today’s Word of the Week is less a word and more the etymology of a story. Because my kids asked me, after I went through the original St. Nicholas story with them, when Rudolph came about, and I had no clue.
As it turns out, our beloved reindeer was an invention of a writer named Robert L. May, who was hired by the Montgomery Ward company to create an original piece of work for their annual children’s coloring book. May devised Rudolph in 1939…to some opposition. The publishers didn’t like the red nose idea. Red noses were associated with drunkards, which certainly wasn’t the image they wanted to portray. But when May had his illustrator friend create a cutesy deer character with a beaming red nose, the powers that be relented–and the story took off to amazing success. The original poem was written in the meter of “The Night Before Christmas.”
The song we all know and love was written a decade later, by the author’s brother-in-law. It remained the all-time best selling album in the country until the 80s!
The stop-motion animation version that I grew up thinking was the only Rudolph story worth watching, LOL, came about in 1964. Though very popular, this movie apparently doesn’t stick very accurately to the original poem. Which now makes me want to look up the original and see what’s been changed!
So there we have it. Our history of Rudolph. =)