This blog post is a featured article from our student-run newspaper.
"Overthinking: Santa’s Delivery System" by Delaney
The holidays, a time of family, presents, traditions…and animals that fly through the sky to help deliver gifts to children around the world. But, before you stay up all night staring at the sky, waiting for a magical herd of animals to frolic by, let’s think about this phenomenon. Could reindeer actually fly? How does this whole Santa delivery system work?
First, what exactly are reindeer? Are they real, and who really are these famous powerhouses behind Santa’s sleigh? In fact, reindeer are real; they are a species of deer that typically live in regions of Siberia, North America, and Europe. These regions include arctic, subarctic, boreal, mountainous, and tundra ecosystems. Both male and female reindeer grow antlers, but the males shed them in late autumn. Female reindeer keep their antlers until they give birth. How does this all relate to Santa, you ask? All this stuff about antlers made me wonder about something. Since male reindeer shed their antlers so early in the season, and all depictions of Santa’s sleigh show reindeer with antlers, this means that all of the famous reindeer, in a surprising turn of events, are in fact female. Even Rudolph. Another fun fact, reindeer are also very skittish around humans, so it probably wouldn’t be easy to hire one to guide your sleigh.
Next, let’s talk about how fast Santa’s sleigh has to go in order to reach all of the houses and deliver all of the gifts by Christmas morning. Even factoring out people who don’t celebrate Christmas, there are a lot of kids who do in this world. There is also a limited amount of time, and I seriously doubt that without some really futuristic technology, Santa could achieve this without some super speedy reindeer. This isn’t even taking into account the added weight from all the cookies Santa eats throughout the night; but that’s a topic for another time. Lastly, an average reindeer can only run about 15 miles an hour. So, Santa’s reindeer certainly can’t be average.
But, Santa’s reindeer don’t run, they fly. For a reindeer to be able to fly without holiday magic, or something else just as cheesy, there would have to be a change in their anatomy. Perhaps genetic engineering to give them wings (which would have to encompass a 33-foot-long wingspan) or some other science experiment that seems just cruel to the reindeer. I doubt after all of this, the reindeer would still be willing to fly a sleigh for Santa, and it is pretty unrealistic to think genetic engineering could accomplish such a thing.
So, even though reindeer are very cool animals in general, there isn’t really a way for them to easily learn to fly. But, it is the holidays, so I guess there is one way. Magic. :)