Sunday, 20 December 2009


Chistmas 2009

Each day from now until Christmas day one article will be devoted to a subject connected with Christmas. Today we take a look at reindeer.


The reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), also known as the caribou when wild in North America, is an Arctic and subarctic-dwelling deer, widespread and numerous across the Arctic and Subarctic.

The reindeer is a widespread and numerous species in the northern Holarctic. Originally, the reindeer was found in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Russia, Mongolia, and northern China north of the 50th latitude. In North America, it was found in Canada, Alaska (USA), and the northern conterminous USA from Washington to Maine. In the 19th century, it was apparently still present in southern Idaho. It also occurred naturally on Sakhalin, Greenland, and probably even in historical times in Ireland. During the late Pleistocene era, reindeer were found as far south as Nevada and Tennessee in North America and Spain in Europe. Today, wild reindeer have disappeared from many areas within this large historical range, especially from the southern parts, where it vanished almost everywhere. Large populations of wild reindeer are still found in Norway Siberia, Greenland, Alaska, and Canada, with a singular herd of approximately 50 Reindeer living around the Cairngorms region in Scotland.
Domesticated reindeer are mostly found in northern Fennoscandia, Russia, and Iceland (where they were introduced by humans in the 18th century). The last remaining wild reindeer in Europe are found in portions of southern Norway. The southern boundary of the species' natural range is approximately at 62 degrees north latitude.
A few reindeer from Norway were introduced to the South Atlantic island of South Georgia in the beginning of the 20th century. Today, there are two distinct herds still thriving there, permanently separated by glaciers. Their total numbers are no more than a few thousand. The flag and the coat of arms of the territory contain an image of a reindeer. Around 4000 reindeer have been introduced into the French sub-Antarctic archipelago of Kerguelen Islands.
Caribou and reindeer numbers have fluctuated historically, but many herds are in decline across their range. This global decline is linked to climate change for northern, migratory caribou and reindeer herds and industrial disturbance of caribou habitat for sedentary, non-migratory herds.

In the Santa Claus myth, Santa Claus's sleigh is pulled by flying reindeer. These were first named in the 1823 poem "A visit from St Nicholas", where they are called Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, and Blixem. Dunder was later changed to Donder and—in other works—Donner (in German, "thunder"), and Blixem was later changed to Bliksem, then Blitzen (German for "lightning"). Some consider Rudolph as part of the group as well, though he was not mentioned in the poem. Rudolph was added by Robert L. May in 1939 as "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer".

Animal Crackers

Japanese Warrior!

Looking Back - 'Divorce': Queen To Charles And Diana

On this day in 1995, the Queen urged the Prince and Princess of Wales to seek "an early divorce".
Buckingham Palace said the Queen called for an end to the marriage in a letter to each of them earlier this week.
It is understood the prince has replied in agreement with his mother but the princess has yet to respond, according to a Palace spokesman.
"After considering the situation the Queen wrote to both the prince and princess earlier in the week and gave them her view, supported by the Duke of Edinburgh, that an early divorce is desirable," the spokesman said.
"The Prince of Wales also takes this view and has made this known to the Princess of Wales since the letter.
"The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will continue to do all they can to help and support the Prince and Princess of Wales, and most particularly their children, in this difficult period."
The Queen's action came just weeks after the princess's interview on Panorama which sparked a national debate on the future of the monarchy.
In it she said she did not want a divorce and claimed there were "three people" in their marriage because of Charles' friendship with Camilla Parker Bowles.
Diana was also repeatedly critical of her husband's ability to become king, his family, and their advisers and also admitted committing adultery herself.
Constitutional experts have said divorce would mean the Princess of Wales could never become queen.
The prime minister and senior Privy Councillors have backed the Queen's decision after prolonged private talks over the last two weeks.
Buckingham Palace's announcement followed discussions between the Queen and the Prime Minister.
Mr Major, who announced the couple's original separation in the Commons in 1992, will make a further statement to MPs once divorce proceedings are under way.

The "fairytale" marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales ended with a "decree nisi" on 28 August 1996.
It was a far cry from their lavish wedding at St Paul's Cathedral 15 years earlier, witnessed by a television audience of millions.
As part of the divorce settlement Diana was stripped of her royal title - HRH - and instead became known as Diana, Princess of Wales.
It is understood she was awarded a £17m lump sum and £350,000 a year to run her private office, while Diana and Charles agreed to share custody of their sons.
Almost exactly a year later Diana died in a car crash with her companion Dodi Fayed in Paris.
Prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles in April 2005.

Today's Smile


A topical brainteaser for today. All you have to do is answer one simple question, well perhaps not so simple!

Question: When did Good Friday last fall on Boxing Day?

I bet you thought it never did! Answer in tomorrows Journal.