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The names "Donder and Blitzen" refer to a Dutch saying meaning "Thunder and Lightning!" This was a common Dutch oath, said when one was "startled or angry or delighted" (Foster 264). Henry Livingston Jr. was both three-quarters Dutch, and he lived in the Hudson Valley (an area influenced heavily by Dutch culture and practices). In this light, such a cultural reference would make since and this supports the theory that Livingston wrote the poem. Joe Nickell, however, argues that "Blixem" fails to rhyme with "Vixen" and it was very likely that a "copyist or editor simply 'corrected' the text to the common Dutch form" (11). According to Nickell, Clement Clarke Moore subsequently used "Blitzen" in his all his manuscript copies to both continue the rhyme and reinstate the "original Germanic form" (11).


Foster, Don. "Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous." New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2000.

Nickell, Joe. "The Case of the Christmas Poem." Manuscripts 54.4 (2002): 293-308.

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