Did Siberian Shamans Help Create The Modern Motifs Of Christmas?

Christmas is the time of uncharacteristic generosity, overindulgence and mild alcohol abuse. Followed by less than sincere personal promises of starting up Yoga or running.

(I'm of course joking...)

But what about a strange story of a bearded man in red and white coming down your chimney and his flying reindeer?

Capable of flying vast distances breaking the rules of time and space.

And what of a tree adorned with colourful decorations with presents at its base?

Well according to Harvard scholar and biologist Donald Pfister Santa might of been eating some of those red and white mushrooms and so were his reindeer!

fly agaric under a christmas tree

The Origin Story Of Father Christmas

Pfister claims that the true origin of the holiday—and Santa Claus himself—can be traced back to the shamanistic traditions of pre-Christian Siberian and Northern European tribal culture.

The Amanita Muscaria mushroom—also known as fly agaric for its unique hallucinogenic properties—was a popular spiritual food for Siberian tribesmen.

Native to the frozen northern hemisphere, the lives of these tribesmen have long been intertwined with that of reindeer.

In fact, the land is not the only thing the Siberians and reindeer shared; they also had similar tastes in food.

The horned animal is known to munch on these mushrooms even digging into the snow to find them.

The process of cultivating these mushrooms also shares a number of stark similarities to the Christmas ritual.

The shamans would (and still do) dress up in ceremonial red and white fur-trimmed jackets and dark boots, collecting the Christmas-coloured mushrooms that grow almost exclusively beneath the tall green pines.

Not your Average Stocking Filler

The shamans would hang the mushrooms from the arms of the pine trees to let them dry before delivering these spiritual gifts, home to home.

Due to the thick wall of snow which blocks the doors of villagers’ homes in the wintertime, the shamans would climb down through the smoke-hole.

The villagers would then use stockings to hang the mushrooms in front of the fire, so that by morning they would be fully dried and ready to enjoy.

Maybe these are all just coincidence and wishful thinking but then again maybe it all adds up.

Donald Pfister seems to think so and he went to Harvard!

fly agaric mushroom at christmas

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Neal has had long running relationship with Daoism and its health related practices including Chi Gung, Meditation and a interest in its methods of using herbs and food to generate health. He hopes his passion will rub off on you in a positive way.

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