Deer Me! (Or, Holiday Trivia)

Reading Reindeer OrnamentBecause Bas Bleu’s customers are awesome, helpful people, we received quite the flurry of correspondence after our Autumn 2014 issue debuted. Mostly you told us that you loved the new books and gifts we chose for the catalog. But several eagle-eyed readers pointed out what you feared was an editing mistake on our part: referring to our Reading Reindeer Ornament as a “she.” If there’s one thing we remember from childhood—thank you, Julie Andrews!—it’s that a doe is a deer, a female deer. But how, you asked, can our hooved bibliophile be a doe when she has antlers? 

As it turns out, unlike most other deer, male and female reindeer grow (and regrow) antlers each year. Both genders begin growing their antlers in the spring, according to the experts over at the San Diego Zoo, but male reindeer typically drop theirs in November or early December, while females keep their antlers through the winter. The University of Alaska Fairbanks (they would know!) reports that the females hang onto their antlers longer to give them an “advantage over food resources” during pregnancy and after their calves are born.

You know what this means, don’t you? Santa’s “eight tiny reindeer” are probably girls! (They’re also probably Norwegian, but that’s a blog post for another day.) It is possible that Santa’s team is a guys-only troupe, but for reasons they may not appreciate: Male reindeer who retain their antlers through December 25 have likely been relieved of other, um, key appendages.

We hope this explanation clears things up a bit—or at least imparts an interesting piece of Christmas trivia. Many thanks to those of you who wrote in with your query; it’s a good thing to have readers who keep us on our toes!

15 thoughts on “Deer Me! (Or, Holiday Trivia)

  1. I guess reindeer are more like elk or moose. Though now I am curious why deer are different. Have to look it up.

    • Apparently reindeer are most similar to caribou, Sharon. Let us know what other interesting factoids you discover!

  2. Ah, c’mon! Normal reindeer can carry a load of about 150 pounds for 50 miles in a day. Consider the tonnage and distance moved by Santa’s reindeer in 24 hours. These are NOT typical reindeer. Alas, I suspect use of performance enhancing drugs. Given that probability, explaining unseasonable retention of antlers is easy. Oo you now understand the significance of Rudolph’s red nose? No wonder he was barred from the Reindeer Games .

  3. Reindeer are the same as caribou. Also, the antlers on the ornament deer are indeed “deer-style”, not reindeer/caribou style; therefore the depiction is still wrong–female deer do not have antlers.

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