Don Foster, in his book Author Unknown, On the Trail of Anonymous (published by Henry Holt and Co., 2000), points to circumstantial evidence indicating that the true author of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" ("The Night Before Christmas") may actually be Henry Livingston Jr., a poet of Dutch descent from Poughkeepsie, NY. If it is true, Donder's name may be a reflection of Livingston's Dutch roots.
In the original publication of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in 1823 in the Troy Sentinel "Dunder and Blixem" are listed as the last two reindeer. These are very close to the Dutch words for thunder and lightning, "Donder and Bliksem". Blixem is an alternative spelling for Bliksem, but Dunder is not an alternative spelling for Donder. It is likely that the word "Dunder" was a misprint. Blitzen's true name, then, might actually have been "Bliksem".
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