Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Friday, December 24, 2010

First Lines... and the Origins of a Special Little Reindeer

"'Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the hills
The reindeer were playing, enjoying their spills.

While every so often they'd stop to call names
At one little deer not allowed in their games.

Ha ha! Look at Rudolph! His nose is a sight!
It's red as a beet! Twice as Big! Twice as Bright!"
... Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert L. May, 1939

It was 1939 and Montgomery Ward department stores was looking for an inexpensive way to draw customers into their store during the Christmas season. Robert May was an advertising executive with Montgomery Ward, had a natural flair with words, and was asked to create something. The result was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a story "of Rudolph, a young reindeer who was teased by the other deer because of his large, glowing, red nose. But, When Christmas Eve turned foggy and Santa worried that he wouldn't be able to deliver gifts that night, the former outcast saved Christmas by leading the sleigh by the light of his red nose. Rudolph's message-that given the opportunity, a liability can be turned into an asset-proved popular." May used a rhyming pattern similar to Clement Moore's, 'Twas Night Before Christmas, and a Christmas icon was born! Montgomery Ward gave away almost 2.5 million copies of the poem, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, when it was first published. In 1947, Montgomery Ward gave the copyright to May, who published the poem in book form, which instantly became a best seller.

In 1949, Johnny Marks, Robert May's brother-in-law, wrote a short song based on Rudolph's story. It is rumored that at first no one wanted to record the song because the story itself was a cherished Christmas tradition. But eventually country-western singer Gene Autry recorded the song and the rest is history. The song's popularity has even surpassed the books popularity- almost anyone can sing along to the song, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but how about the book by the same name? 71 years later, we are still enjoying Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

And tonight we'll be watching for that little red glow in the night sky, that will be our favorite reindeer leading Santa's sleigh to all the homes of all the good little boys & girls all over the world... Merry Christmas!

2 comments:

Elisabeth said...

Thanks for the background info. I learned something new!! Happy Holidays!!!!

Suzanne said...

Happy Holidays Elisabeth! Thanks for stopping by and sharing a bit of Christmas here!

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