As December comes ’round again, mailboxes and email inboxes are filled with holiday greetings. These cards may feature images of rabbits hiding beneath snow-covered boughs, puppies snoozing beside a bright hearth, or kittens playing with tinsel on the lower branches of Christmas trees. Christmas and animals go together as perfectly as Christmas and eggnog and big red bows.
Yet here’s a thought experiment: What animal do you first think of when you think of Christmas? Since Santa Claus has practically cornered the market on seasonal holiday decor, the answer for most people would likely be reindeer—Santa’s faithful “steeds.” And what better way to represent these cheerful creatures than with your own life-sized, giant reindeer?
As we know, Santa resides in the North Pole and, while in reality reindeer don’t live there, they are animals of the northern frozen tundra. In fact, only in Europe are reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) called “reindeer”; in North America, the animals are called “caribou” if they are wild and “reindeer” if they are domesticated. Still, caribou and reindeer are the same animal. Domesticated or wild, they can be quite large. For example, males of the species have been known to grow up to 84 inches in length, with a shoulder height of close to 6 feet and weigh many hundreds of pounds.
Reindeer have been associated with Jolly St. Nick ever since 1821, when William Gilley first described Santa’s magical sled being pulled by reindeer in the booklet, A New Year’s Present, to the Little Ones from Five to Twelve, Number III: The Children’s Friend.
Animals Brighten Up the Christmas Season
Christmas is a time of peace and joy. Most animals fit right in to that theme. To start with, think about pets, given as gifts or already part of the household—that puppy by the hearth or that kitten playing with the tinsel.
And, of course, the first Christmas was absolutely overflowing with animals. Shepherds were tending their flocks by night when the star appeared to them. In the stable near the manger, oxen and donkeys were said to look on in awe. Sturdy, stoic camels carried the three wise men to Bethlehem. In the Christmas song, “Carol of the Lamb,” a young sheep is invited to look into the stall and see the holy infant lying there. Popular secular Christmas tales have featured anthropomorphized lions, rats, deer and, of course, the beloved red-nosed Rudolph.
Which brings us back to the main topic of this blog!
Giant Reindeer Bring Cheer
Reindeer have long been favorite Christmas decorations. You might find eight standing proudly atop a mantel, pulling a tiny Santa in his sleigh. Or you often discover diminutive, stuffed reindeer in toy stores or silver reindeer adorning evergreen trees and holly wreaths. Yet, when one is decorating for Christmas, the most joyous of the holiday seasons, bigger is often better. And that goes double for giant reindeer! A life-sized reindeer—or eight of them, so Santa can get moving!—are sure to catch your neighbors’ attention and offer some cheer.
Part of a family-friendly drive-through Christmas lights experience put on display in Naperville, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) in 2021, the most giant reindeer on record stood about 40 feet tall and had a glowing ruby red nose.
We are not suggesting you go to that extreme. But why not have a bit of fun this holiday season? While some giant reindeer created for outdoor displays are intentionally cartoonish, others can be quite realistic. One of our life-sized Nordic reindeer stands a full 65″ tall and is strong enough for youngsters to sit atop for photos! Another, at 63″ tall, moves its head up and down to greet passersby and welcome visitors to your home. Remember:
When December comes around
With fun and festive cheer,
Brighten up your front yard with
Your own life-sized reindeer!