Was Santa Clause a mushroom?

Everyone loves this time of the year because it means resting, eating food, drinking booze and being with those you love. December is the most festive and traditional time of the year in many cultures. But where did these traditions come from? How did they come to be?

In this article, I will be looking at the tale of a man commonly called Santa Clause and the origins of his story. As with much of history, there is a psychedelic twist.

Who was Santa Clause?

If you were once a child in the western world, your parents most likely fed you the exciting story of a mysterious man called Santa. He is described by his classic jolly red cheeks and long white beard. He sports a red coat with a white fur collar and cuffs, white-fur-cuffed red trousers, a red hat with white fur and a matching black leather belt/boot combo. Santa Clause is typically pictured carrying a large sack full of gifts for children.

His modern story is that he lives in the North Pole in his toy-making factory along with his wife (Mrs Clause), his 8 reindeer and countless hard-working elves that specialize in toy-making. All year long, the elves work around the clock to prepare for Christmas, making presents for every single child on Earth. On December 24th, the night before Christmas, Santa Clause heads out with his magic reindeer on his sleigh and delivers presents to all the children across the Globe so they can wake up to presents under the tree on Christmas morning. However, even Santa Clause has his conditions. Every child is either on the Nice List or the Naughty List. If you are a good kid, you’ll make it on the Nice List. If you are bad that year, you’ll receive nothing more than a clump of coal in your stocking.

The tale of Santa Clause is told each year in many households without question. But how and when did this tale begin?

Where do our holiday traditions come from?

General Christmas traditions have been going on for thousands of years. While many believe that most of these traditions come from Christianity, Christmas traditions can be traced back to pre-Christian times and carry deep roots in Nordic mythology and Paganism. Far before Christianity developed, every year around the middle of December has always been a time of celebration for many cultures. These celebrations include music, dancing and gathering together.

As history tells us, the lives of early humans were dictated by seasonal cycles and harvest schedules. Many years ago, we were much more in touch and in sync with the cycles of nature. Before modern-day technology, such as heating systems and electricity, winter was cold, dark, and just simply brutal. Sadly, many humans died during the dark and cold season of winter, making it an extremely difficult time of the year. Due to the dreary reality of the harsh winter months, a celebration was needed to keep spirits alive!

The annual harvest for most communities would have been brought in during autumn and the cattle would have been slaughtered so they wouldn’t have to be fed and kept alive during the winter. It was difficult enough to keep yourself and your family alive during the winter, never mind your agriculture. All year was spent preparing for the winter. Moreso, the majority of beer and wine would be fully fermented and ready to drink right around late December. What does all of this mean? An abundance of drink/food and a reason to celebrate, which may be the explanation for the large gatherings and banqueting during winter that we still partake in during this day and age.

So these particular traditions date back further in time than Christianity does as a whole. What about Santa Clause? Was he a Christian myth as many would claim him to be? Let’s look at that next.

The brief story of Saint Nicolas

If you look up the origins of Santa Clause, you will likely find many blogs about how he first appeared in Christianity and originally went by the name Saint Nicolas. This entity surfaced around 280AC and was a 4th-century Greek bishop/gift-giver to the Christian community in the ancient town of Myra.

Saint Nicholas was brought up in a wealthy family but sadly lost both of his parents just as he was entering adulthood. As any saint would, he used his inheritance to help the less fortunate. He specifically aided the sick and the poor in the beginning. However, this story takes an unexpected turn. He is famously known for helping the poor father of three daughters that were deemed unable to marry and therefore could not sustain their finances. He attempted to save them from a life of prostitution, which was the most common outcome for unmarried women in the 4th century. He dropped 3 sacks of gold down their father's chimney on a late night in December, making him the Saint of prostitutes! A strange story, indeed.

There are many unique stories of a man barring gifts to the less fortunate in many cultures and religions. But what if we go just a wee bit further back? Doing so will lead you down the rabbit hole of the intertwined storyline of Shamanism and Santa Clauses.

Was Santa Clause a magic mushroom?

Modern-day Santa Clause has a lot of similarities with ancient Siberian shamans. Yup-you, read that right! I know it sounds crazy but you have to hear me out. A recent molecular study proposed that the famously known Amanita Muscaria (psychoactive mushroom) had ancestral origins in the Siberian Beringain region roughly 65 million years ago during the Tertiary period before making its way to Asia, Europe and North America.

According to many sources, Siberian shamans would dress up as the Amanita Muscaria mushroom before foraging. More specifically, they wore red costumes with white fur collars and cuffs, black boots and red hats with white fur trim. Sound familiar?

The reason why these shamans dressed up this way was to honour the mushroom they were foraging as they saw the Amanita Muscaria to be sacred to their people. More interestingly enough, this is not an ancient tradition that died out. To this day, Siberian mushroom gatherers carry out a similar ceremony and still dress up as the Amanita Muscaria during their ceremonies! Although the current ceremonial dressings look different to how this did back in the day, the thought and motive is still present.

Okay, so perhaps Santa Clause was not an actual mushroom, but these stories tell us that one of the original Santa Clauses dressed up as a mushroom. Is this not enough evidence of origin? Well, it doesn’t stop there!

Not only would these shamans dress up as the Amanita Muscaria, but they would also deliver the mushroom to their people undried. After receiving the gift from the shaman, the locals would then hang the mushrooms up on string over their fire to dry the magic mushrooms out before consuming them. Some people believe that hanging these red and white mushrooms over the fire is where the tradition of hanging red and white stockings over the fire comes from. Additionally, shamans would often deliver said mushrooms to the locals through their roof. During the unforgivably cold and harsh Siberian winters, many villagers didn’t use a front door as their doors would be covered in snow, making it unrealistic to use on a daily basis. Instead, they would often enter and leave their homes through a small door-like hole on their roof.

As the tale of Santa is told, he would walk on the roof of a home and deliver his gifts through the chimney-a hole in the roof. As the tale of the Siberian shaman is told, he/she would walk on the roof of a home and deliver the mushrooms he foraged through a hole in their roof.

There are many, many similarities between the Siberian Shamans’ winter traditions and the traditions revolving around Santa Clause.

But what do you think about this? Let us know in the comments! Merry Christmas, all!