For millions of children around the world Santa comes every Christmas. But where does his magic come from? Christmas spirit, love, or maybe magic? One theory is that Santa took hallucinogenic or “magic” mushrooms.
The theory says the legend of Santa was derived from shamans in the Siberian and Arctic regions. The shamans visited villagers homes in late December, came down through the chimney and had a bag presents containing hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Rush told Live Science:
“Santa is a modern counterpart of a shaman, who consumed mind-altering plants and fungi to commune with the spirit world. As the story goes, up until a few hundred years ago these practicing shamans or priests connected to the older traditions would collect Amanita muscaria (the Holy Mushroom), dry them, and then give them as gifts on the winter solstice. Because snow is usually blocking doors, there was an opening in the roof through which people entered and exited, thus the chimney story.”
There are some historians and ethnomycologists, people who study the influence fungi has had on human societies, who think there is a symbolic relationship between the Holy Mushroom and Christmas traditions.
NBC News reports the late author James Arthur says the tradition of Christmas trees partially came from a fungi that grows under certain trees in the Northern Hemisphere commonly called the fly agaric. The fungi is deep red with white flakes. Biologist, Donal Pfister, believes Siberian tribesman who ingested fly agaric may have hallucinated into thinking that reindeer, which are common in Siberia, were flying. Carl Ruck, a professor at Boston University says:
“At first glance, one thinks it’s ridiculous, but it’s not. Whoever heard of reindeer flying? I think it’s becoming general knowledge that Santa is taking a ‘trip’ with his reindeer.”
Not all scientists and and professors agree there is a connection. Even Ruck said that although there is little debate that the Siberian and Arctic tribes ate hallucinogenic mushrooms, the connection to Christmas is more tenuous or ‘mysterious’.