Christmas, like many other holidays, has its share of historical inaccuracies and myths.
For example, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was not one of Santa's reindeer and didn't live on the North Pole. In fact, he was invented in 1939 by Robert L. May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward department stores, as a promotional gimmick.
By 1946, a total of 6 million copies of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer booklet had been distributed to Montgomery Ward customers.
May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, developed the lyrics and music for a Rudolph song which was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949. It sold 2 million copies that year alone and went on to become the second best-selling record of all time, second only to "White Christmas."
However, May's original story differs from the song lyrics. According to May, Rudolph lived in an ordinary reindeer village considerably south of the North Pole. Even though he was taunted for having a shiny red nose, his parents were not embarrassed. They brought Rudolph up in a loving home and gave him a high sense of self-esteem. Santa delivered presents to their house one night during a thick fog. Impressed by the glow of Rudolph's shiny red nose, Santa chose him to lead his team of reindeer to complete his rounds.
This brings to mind other Christmas myths.
MYTH #1 -- Santa Claus is a fat man in a red suit.
Not true. He's fairly thin and usually wears boxer shorts with a tank top around the house. He just dons multiple layers of clothing to keep warm in late December, when zipping around the night sky in an open sleigh. Santa's delivery outfit is bright red to protect him from trigger-happy sportsmen -- he doesn't want to be mistaken for a flock of geese.
MYTH #2 -- Santa Claus lives at the North Pole.
Not true. He lives in Canada, halfway between Medicine Hat and Moose Jaw. The north pole is a large block of ice, populated by three polar bears and a wayward penguin. Canada is a lot like the North Pole -- it's cold and nobody ever goes there.
MYTH #3 -- Santa has a bunch of little helpers called elves.
Not true. They're mostly vertically-challenged (short) Swedes.
MYTH #4 -- Santa Claus climbs down chimneys to deliver his presents.
No longer true. He once did climb down chimneys but got stuck several times in Colorado where legislation in 1969 required all chimneys to contain filters. In 1970, Santa reverted to using doors and windows, but he was busted in 1972 in Hackensack, New Jersey, for breaking and entering. Ever since then, Santa has used the Star Trek method of teleportation whereby his molecular structure is disassembled on the rooftop and reassembled directly in front of the Christmas tree. This way he is guilty only of entering but not of breaking, usually a misdemeanor in most places.
MYTH #5 -- Santa Claus likes to have some cookies and milk waiting for his arrival.
No longer true. In 1983, he developed a gastrointestinal infection while hovering over Thailand. Too much curry, causing a bad case of diarrhea, which can be quite a dilemma while flying through the air in an open sleigh.
MYTH #6 -- Kids will get presents that reflect the latest craze.
Not true. There is no latest craze. Remember Cabbage Patch dolls, Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtles and Tickle-Me Elmo? They were the latest craze for about fifteen minutes. By the time the kids open presents, the latest craze will become a closet relic. If you want to give your kids a gift that has some worth, give them something that will get them out of the house, like a bicycle or a chainsaw.
MYTH #7 -- Santa knows who has been naughty and nice.
Not true. That's the CIA, FBI, NSA, NWO, DEA, IRS, ATF, CFR, KGB, MI6, MJ12 and the Jehovah Witnesses who are keeping tabs on everyone. Santa has enough to do without spying on you.
MYTH #8 -- Santa's reindeer are named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen.
Not true. Actually, those are only nicknames to make it easier to come up with Christmas jingles. Their real names are Fox Maulder, Elmer Fudd, Sponge Bob, Snoop Dogg, Joe Sixpack, Clark Kent, D. B. Cooper and Dweezle Zappa.
Quote for the Day -- "Humans live through their myths and only endure their realities." Robert Anton Wilson
Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where myths are facts until proven otherwise. His blogs appear on several websites, including www.myspace.com/bret1111