Christmas mushrooms and Father Christmas
The legend of Father Christmas as we know him today is said to have originated in part from Lapland and Siberia, and it is possible that we have the fly agaric mushroom to thank for it.
For millennia, Shamans in the Siberian region have consumed fly agaric during spiritual celebrations, to enter trance-like states. Shamans would also give out samples of fly agaric mushrooms to people as a gift. Notably, it is thought they would wear red and white clothes, mimicking the colours of the mushrooms.
The shamanic tradition of consuming fly agaric is also closely linked to reindeer, said to be one of their favourite foods. Intriguingly, people commonly consumed the urine of reindeer that had eaten fly agaric mushrooms as this method was believed to bypass the mushroom's toxicity whilst retaining its hallucinogenic effects. Reindeer have also been observed drinking the urine of humans who have consumed fly agaric. Maybe that’s how reindeer fly?
Was this beautiful but toxic mushroom where Father Christmas originated?