The List

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The Independent Online
LAPPS OF HONOUR: No such people (they're Saami, OK?); 60,000 throughout Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Soviet Union; Scandinavian governments limit them to 300-500 reindeer only per family; Sweden's first Lapp parliament set up in September 1993; Norwegian Saami are the largest and most militant group; 77 per cent of the world's tame reindeer are to be found in the former Soviet Union; but . . . post-Chernobyl were declared unfit for consumption; sleigh-pulling reindeer are castrated bulls; but reindeer oxen lose their antlers before Xmas, and therefore are not available to Santa; reindeer do not fly through the sky but Saami do, herding by helicopter is now common; reindeer noses are brown and hairy, never red.

NOT LAPPS: Lapsang Souchong, lap dogs, lapsed Catholics, lapis lazuli.

TOP LAPP: Santa Claus.

TODAY is the feast day of the Blessed William of Fenoli, a Carthusian lay- brother at the beginning of the 13th century. He was famous for some fantastic (or preposterous) miracles. Once, when returning from the fields with a mule, William was attacked by robbers. Having no weapon to defend himself, he seized the leg of the mule, pulled it out of its socket, and put his attackers to flight. This done, he restored the leg to the beast and continued his journey. Paintings survive of Blessed William holding the leg of a mule.

19 December, 1848: Emily Bronte (above) died of tuberculosis at Haworth, North Yorkshire. Wuthering Heights, published a year before her death and just after Charlotte's Jane Eyre, was her only novel. While her sister's book was widely acclaimed, Emily's initially met with hostility for its strange construction and violent nature.

1851: J M W Turner, painter, died.

1981: Eight coastguards from the Penlee lifeboat were killed off Mousehole, Cornwall.

BIRTHDAYS: Timothy Eggar MP, coal minister, 42; Richard Leakey, wildlife conservationist, 49; Syd Little, comedian, 51.

DEATHS: Jozsef Antall, Prime Minister of Hungary, aged 61; Myrna Loy, Hollywood actress, aged 88; Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, President of Fiji, aged 75.