The first written story about the legend of Santa Claus and his eight reindeer was "A Visit from St. Nicholas," penned by Clement C. Moore in 1823. The legend is taken from Russian stories of Father Frost arriving in villages in a sled drawn by reindeer.

The legend also existed in Holland, where children believed St. Nicholas would ride through the air, checking on children who misbehaved. The ninth reindeer, Rudolph, did not come along until 1939, in a story by Robert L. May.