It's no secret our that our Christmas traditions are steeped in folklore and religious and spiritual ritual. But is something else - something far more fun and interesting - responsible for the Christmas customs we enjoy? There is a theory about psychedelics and Christmas, specifically that magic mushrooms are behind Christmas and the traditions established long ago. Scholars and academics were the first ones to note the similarities between magic mushrooms and Christmas traditions, illustrating a link that is perhaps not coincidental at all, but proof that some of our most beloved holiday conventions are directly tied to psychedelics. To some, this idea might be scarier than Krampus, but to others, it may just bring a little Christmas joy.
Below is a sampling of the many ways our modern Christmases look eerily like the world of magic 'shrooms. Are we living in a festive bliss imagined centuries ago during a magic mushroom trip?
Santa Claus Is Essentially A Shaman
The jolly old Santa embraced by our culture is inspired largely by the poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (AKA "'Twas the night before Christmas"), written in 1823 by Clement Clark Moore. This popular image of Santa Claus may well have been inspired by shamans, particularly Siberian shamans who wore outfits eerily like Santa's red and white, fur-trimmed suit.
According to anthropologist John Rush: "Up until a few hundred years ago, these practicing shamans would collect Amanita muscaria (the Holy Mushroom), dry them, and then give them as gifts on the winter solstice." This might also explain why Santa slides his ample tuchus down chimneys instead of coming in through the front door. Siberian winters were brutal, and snow removal often impossible; a chimney entrance may have been much more feasible during the time of these Santa Shamans.
Mushrooms Pop Up In Lots Of Christmas Art
If you look at older Christmas art, art created prior to the mid-20th century, you will find a common theme among artist renderings of Christmas scenes and figures: the magic mushroom. In some images, the mushrooms are just small little details; in others, the mushrooms are the focal point, featuring cherubic-cheeked kids or elves, excited for Christmas, sitting atop a giant 'shroom.
The Amanita muscaria, or fly agaric, is the mushroom we commonly know as the magic mushroom. But in Victorian times, this particular type of fungus was a symbol for - wait for it - chimney sweeps! Mushrooms, chimneys, Santa Claus... it's all making some sense now.
Reindeer Are Able To Fly Because They've Eaten Mushrooms
This theory suggests that reindeer are able to fly because they've ingested psychedelic mushrooms. In Siberia, there is evidence that shamans and reindeer would both eat 'shrooms, which, of course, leads to the logical conclusion that there was a lot of tripping going on way up in the frozen north. Biology professor Donald Pfister told NPR: "This idea [is] that reindeer go berserk because they're eating Amanita muscaria. Reindeers flying - are they flying, or are your senses telling you they're flying because you're hallucinating?"
There is also proof that magic mushrooms can stimulate the nervous system to the extent that one feels a temporary, Herculean strength, and this would apply to animals too. Maybe reindeer, having ingested mushrooms, weren't flying at all, but jumping and bounding and prancing with their surge of super-reindeer power.
The Colors Of Christmas Match The Colors Of 'Shrooms
The colors of the fly agaric mushroom are predominantly red and white - just like the suit worn by our favorite Christmas folk hero. The similarities don't stop there, though. Santa is usually depicted as carrying a large white sack full of toys.
Mushrooms grow from white sacs, and when they are gathered, they are usually put into white sacks.