If one were to give the matter any thought, what Santa and his reindeer accomplish every Christmas Eve is really quite mind-boggling. Figuring (very conservatively) that if Santa must visit a little over 100 million households in his twenty-four-hour trip around the world, this means that he has to make approximately 1,100 stops per second. He and the reindeer, therefore, must travel nearly 700 miles per second (which is 3,500 times the speed of sound) mushroom bag !
And not only must they go this fast, they must pull the sleigh containing Santa and the toys. If you calculate that there are two good children per each of the 100 million-plus
households that celebrate Christmas throughout the world, this means the reindeer must pull (figuring a mere three pounds per child) 600 million pounds; that’s 300,000 tons!
As a veterinarian who’s had special training in emergency reindeer medicine, I’ve discovered over the years that the best way of explaining how these nine special reindeer (not all reindeer have the ability to fly) accomplish their Christmas Eve mission is to start by dismissing all the phony theories that have been bantered around for the last two thousand years.
1.) Sprinkling the reindeer with fairy dust to make them fly can be dismissed offhand because no where in any of the Christmas tradition throughout the world are there any mention of fairies-or their purported ‘fairy dust.’
2.) The rumors of the reindeer being fed ‘magic corn’ can similarly be ignored. Everybody knows that corn-magic or otherwise-doesn’t grow at the North Pole.
3.) A theory that was popular in the drug-induced stupor of the late 1960’s of the reindeer obtaining their ability to fly by the selective eating of yellow snow that had been peed out by human shamans (who were somehow intoxicated on hallucinogenic mushrooms) can be disregarded as well as simple brainless babble.
4.) Popular during the narcissistic body-building craze of the 1980’s was the belief that Santa’s reindeer were being supercharged by the use of anabolic steroids. The logic escapes me on this theory as well, because, even if the drug might make the reindeer physically strong, it doesn’t make them fly!
5.)A theory whereby Santa’s reindeer somehow manage to inflate themselves like hot air balloons should pass (forgive the pun) from human memory forever. Commonly referred to as ‘the gasbag hypothesis,’ the idea does a fairly good job of explaining how the animals could possibly obtain vertical liftoff. It doesn’t, however, provide an explanation for how they’re able to achieve forward motion once they’re airborne. Forget about flatulence propelling the reindeer forward: the passed gas would be lethal to poor old Santa.
6.) A similar hypothesis, often referred to the ‘Pegasus phenomenon,’ states that the reindeer grow wings for one night a year. This theory accounts nicely for how the animals might fly, but according to the engineers who study this stuff, each reindeer would need a wingspan of 32 feet! Where would they find all of the runway space for taking off and landing, especially in the cities?
7.)The most complicated theory put forth by an elite group of highly learned astrophysicists-and probably the least understood by the average person-is the so called ‘Einstein paradigm.’ Or, put more simply, it is the ‘hoped-for theory of everything.’ This mind-boggling hypothesis journeys into the unfathomable realm of the quantum mechanics. And before I delve too deeply into the theory, let me just warn the gentle reader that this is some pretty heavy stuff! Put in a nutshell, the hypothesis proposes that the Christmas reindeer may be using a not-yet-discovered ability to create alterations in Einstein’s space/time continuum. This distortion in the fabric of time could be the driving principle behind what allows the reindeer to be in a thousand places at any instant of time. Putting it even more simply, by their as-of-yet-unknown ability to control universal time, the reindeer are able to make use of a form of quantum teleportation. This would give them the capacity to be in an infinite number of places at any one time. (I told you this was heavy stuff!!!) The theory goes on and on and on, and involves in-depth knowledge of cosmic worm holes, fractal vortex shedding devices (the reindeer antlers), string theories, and nine-dimension universes. Phew!