The Original ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ Has a Very Different Story From the Popular Christmas Song

The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is well-known by generations, with added lyrics about Monopoly and Rudolph’s nose glowing like a light bulb. However, the Christmas story known from musical numbers is different from the actual story of this beloved reindeer.

Here’s what we know about the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer coloring book version, complete with Rudolph writing his parents a note. 

Illustration of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer leading Santa Claus's sleigh on Christmas Eve, 1949
Illustration of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer leading Santa Claus’s sleigh on Christmas Eve, 1949 | GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a classic Christmas song with well-known lyrics

“Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” are holiday-themed songs performed decades after their release. The song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” tells the story of one animal struggling to fit in among his friends. 

The other reindeers excluded Rudolph because of his bright red nose, just like one elf was excluded because of his passion for dentistry. The other reindeers didn’t love him until one foggy Christmas Eve that Santa asked Rudolph to guide his sleigh. Rudolph went down in history as the unofficial ninth reindeer in Santa Claus’ lineup. 

Since its debut, the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” earned over 40 million Spotify plays. The soundtrack used in the stop-motion animated film is available for purchase digitally and physically. However, the original story of Rudolph describes a different harrowing tale. 

Robert May’s ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ tells a different Christmas story

With the “Ugly Duckling” serving as inspiration, Robert May’s version of Rudolph, published in a coloring book, originally started with a different name for this loveable reindeer. There were talks of Rollo the Reindeer and even Reginald the Reindeer, although the writer decided the name was too British. 

After settling on Rudolph, May decided this story would be about Santa delivering gifts to the reindeer village. Unfortunately, no one remembered to leave lights on for Santa in the original tale, leaving Father Christmas to stumble in the dark, with the character even falling “on his back” while in Rudolph’s house. 

Once Santa met Rudolph and his glowing red nose, he invited the reindeer to assist him on the rest of his deliveries. Rudolph left his parents a note, and then “went down in history.” 

Of course, the stop-motion animation version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer follows the story from the song. Even decades after its release, the production is viewed by fans in light of the holiday season.

The ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ soundtrack is available on Spotify and Apple Music

Of course, the soundtrack for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has been made available on most major music streaming platforms. In 2021, fans can stream the holiday classic via FuboTV and Sling. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is also available for purchase thanks to retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Target. 

There are other holiday classics available for binge-watching, thanks to major streaming platforms. That includes Disney+, which holds Home Alone, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, The Santa Clause, and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

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