Santa and his reindeer (Dreamstime)
Interview Words : Lyn Hughes | 24 December

Rudolph reveals all: Exclusive interview with the world's most famous reindeer

We catch up with Santa's biggest helper to find out what life is like in Lapland, why it's such a magical place, and how he gets his nose so shiny...

Rudolph, thank you for agreeing to an interview. Why do you have a shiny nose?

You’d have one too if you were fed lichen soaked in vodka. It’s no secret that Santa likes a tipple or two, so do leave a little something out for him on Christmas Eve – schnapps, sherry, whisky, rum... any local firewater will do.

Don’t male reindeer lose their antlers in the autumn? Are you really a girl?

Male reindeer walking through Bjorndalen in the summer (Dreamstime)

Male reindeer walking through Bjorndalen in the summer (Dreamstime)

Hey baby, come and see my etchings and you’ll soon find out whether I'm a male or not. That rumour is propaganda put out by certain Bah Humbug-types. It is true that some males lose their antlers in the autumn or winter, but not me, baby.

You're busy at Christmas, but what do you reindeer do the rest of the year?

Well, we do what everyone else does; we eat, sleep, do a bit of travelling, do a bit of work. Late spring we migrate to summer pastures – it’s a bit like the original hippie trail. In winter we get to meet lots of tourists who are crazy enough to come to Lapland. We pose for pictures, pull them on sleds, we sometimes run away with them. It’s fun.

So, where are the best places to see reindeer?

Sami man and reindeer (Dreamstime)

Sami man and reindeer (Dreamstime)

Well, I live in Lapland looking after Sami people. The IceHotel is a good place to meet us. You can also see my brethren throughout the Arctic Circle, including some stumpy-legged ones in Spitsbergen (dunno what happened there). And if you head due south towards Antarctica you’ll even find my cousins on South Georgia – we've always been polar explorers.

What’s changed for you in the past few years?

Oh, for the golden days of travel before satellites. No-one used to know where we were on Christmas Eve. We could just pop up somewhere, saying “surprise”. A bit like the Poste Restante system. Now, NASA and other North American agencies track us noradsanta.org. Do they think we’re spying for North Korea?

But surely reindeer can’t fly?

[Splutter]. We fly at over 600mph – just ask NASA. We've also been tracked by Air Traffic Control in the UK and all over the world. So there! We also invented snow-shoeing and snowboarding – our feet are especially adapted, so you humans just copied us. And we’ve been flying since the Bronze Age; there is rock art that proves it to you skeptics.