Origin of the word
The word sleigh comes from the Dutch word ‘slee’, a shortened form of the word ‘slede’ meaning ‘vehicle mounted on runners for use on snow’. The word sleigh originated in American and Canadian English around 1703.
Sleigh is a noun that refers to a mode of transportation specially designed to travel over ice or snow. Usually large and historically made of wood, a sleigh has an open top and seats for multiple passengers. A sleigh must be pulled by an animal, like a horse, and was a primary mode of transportation in winter weather until the early 20th century.
Today, sleighs may still be used as an alternative to more usual means of transport in some cold-weather countries, and are frequently used as a form of winter entertainment — particularly around the Christmas holidays. In fact, a sleigh is commonly associated with the figure of Santa Claus who, according to legend, uses a giant sleigh pulled by eight reindeer to fly around the world on Christmas Eve, delivering gifts to children.
Thousands of Santas in London, however, recently ditched their sleighs in favour of the Tube, all in the name of charity. The annual London Santa Dash, held at Clapham Common, aims to raise funds to benefit the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children.
Instead of riding in sleighs, these festive Father Christmases climbed aboard the Tube in all their red-suited glory and took to the streets on foot to participate in either the 5km or the 10km charity race. Similar runs are held across the UK, including in Cardiff, Swindon, Dorset and Liverpool.
Dozens of joggers braved heavy rain and chilly temperatures this year, with many dressed in red suits and some even sporting white beards — authentic or artificial. Adding to the festive atmosphere, a snow cannon sent flurries of snowflakes over the course while onlookers cheered and urged the runners along.
Organizers and officials from Great Ormond Street hope the London event will raise approximately £250,000 to benefit the hospital’s play service. This specialized therapy team uses toys and games to help hospitalized youngsters ease some of the stress of treatment or long hospital stays.
Though none of the Santas arrived by sleigh to the London Santa Dash, there was still plenty of cheer to be had. Participants were treated to traditional Christmas refreshments upon completing the course.
1. a vehicle that is pulled by animals and used for travelling over snow
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.