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"Magical" Christmas Origins

Posted December 16, 2008 12:00 AM by Sharkles

Christmas is a magical time of year. To prepare for the holiday, people gather to watch classic movies like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. They also speculate with children about Santa Claus and decorate Christmas trees. Although Christmas is largely a commercial event for many, there are varying ideas about the true meaning of the holiday.

For my entire life, I was taught that the true meaning of Christmas was derived from religion. Just recently, however, someone suggested that the true meaning of Christmas may actually come from red-and-white mushrooms.

Amanita Muscaria

Red and white mushrooms, also known as amanita muscaria or fly agaric, are poisonous plants found in temperate and boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere. These cosmopolitan mushrooms are often found in woodlands of birch, pine, spruce, fir, and cedar. In the Northern Hemisphere, red and white mushrooms pop-up during the wet seasons of autumn and winter, but may differ based upon location and climate.

Amanita muscaria become relatively large (3-8 inches), and have a bright red tops when they're fully-grown. Although they are poisonous, these mushrooms are known for their hallucinogenic affects. They were used by ancient Siberian shaman, who would consume the mushrooms and have constituents drink their urine for insight and "transcendental experiences". Compared to other hallucinogenic mushrooms, however, the amanita muscaria is said to be "rarely" consumed in modern times.

Christmas Origins

Theories suggest that most symbols and icons associated with Christmas are derived from shaman traditions of pre-Christian, northern Europe. These traditions include Santa Claus, Christmas trees, flying reindeer, and gift-giving.

Santa: While Santa's current image is due in part to the Coca-Cola Company, it is said that all of his attributes – appearance, manner, and clothing – are reminiscent of ancient mushroom-gathering shamans. One side effect of consuming amanita muscaria is a flushed complexion, which accounts for Santa's famous rosy cheeks and nose. Theorists even liken Santa's signature laugh of "Ho, ho, ho!" to that of someone who had eaten the mushroom.

Santa, like the ancient mushroom-gathers, also dresses in a red and white fur-trimmed coat with tall black boots. Ancient shaman wore these outfits when filling sacks with mushrooms before returning to their homes, which were tee-pee like in design (with a smoke-hole as an entrance). The shaman would climb down the chimney-like entrance and share the contents of his bags.

Christmas Trees: Ancient people believed in the idea of a World Tree, whose roots stretched into the underworld and whose braches reached towards the "heavenly realm". As mentioned earlier, amanita muscaria grows in woodland areas under certain trees, such as fir and evergreens. Like the tree, they are symbolic because the cap of the mushroom is the fruit, while the stem is beneath the soil. To ancient peoples, this meant that the mushrooms were the "fruit of the tree".

Because the mushrooms appeared without a noticeable seed, they were seen by some as a "virgin birth". This "birth" was made possible by the morning dew, which was the "semen of the deity"; the tinsel that adorns many modern Christmas trees is said to represent the divine fluid.

Flying Reindeer: Ancients considered Reindeer to be sacred animals because they provided food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities. Reindeer, like humans, also sought out the red-and-white mushrooms. After consumption, the reindeer would prance around under the mushroom's influence.

Gift-Giving: Today, gift-giving is a central part of Christmas, a holiday that is often associated with commercialism and greed. Originally, however, the "gift" that was celebrated was from the earth. Ancient peoples celebrated the fruiting of the amanita muscaria for the "revelations" it provided.

While the amanita muscaria is not something that everyone would like to associate with the origins of Christmas, it certainly provides an interesting theory. Even though I am not completely sold on the idea, I enjoyed researching the potential shamanistic ties to one of the most celebrated holidays in the world.

Do you think it's possible that Christmas originated from amanita muscaria?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Resources:

http://www.westseattleherald.com/articles/2007/12/12/interact/columnists/column03.txt

http://animamrecro.wordpress.com/2006/12/30/hallucinogenic-mushrooms-and-santa-claus/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanita_muscaria

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#1

Re: Magical Christmas Origins

12/16/2008 8:08 AM

This revelation is borderline to how I felt when my parents told me that Santa wasn't real (or the Easter Bunny... or the Tooth Fairy...). I always thought that Christmas had religious derivations, because not all religions celebrate this holiday (Hanukkah, etc.). It is pretty hard to think that Christmas originated from someone hallucinating from a mushroom. If it is true, it does not really explain the difference in holidays between religions. I suppose if there were a way to tie the mushroom story to the other holidays you could say that the religions interpreted differently.

I don't think I completely believe that Christmas is derived for the reason that different religions have unique holidays. Perhaps if there was a way to connect the mushroom story to everything else, I would start to believe...

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#2

Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/16/2008 10:53 AM

What better way to gather mushrooms than have little elves do it for you? Since they are low to the ground they should be good at finding them, especially since elves are known as forest dwellers, they would know the best spots to get the mushrooms.

In reality, Mushrooms being the origin of Christmas isn't that far fetched... hundreds or thousands of years ago there were no laws regulating this sort of thing and it was pretty common practice. (especially if you had something to celebrate)

You think Jesus was sober while doing the walk on water thing?

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#3

Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/16/2008 1:30 PM

Not just Christmas but large swaths of the Old Testament too.

http://justsaynotoreligion.com/2008/03/04/moses-high-on-hallucinogens/

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#10
In reply to #3

Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/17/2008 8:35 AM

The mushrooms that Benny Shannon ingested 15 years ago have detrimentally effected his brain. My theory is that when he ate them he found himself transported to Mount Sinai and "religiously" took notes as he watched with awe as Moses got high. If anyone wants to follow this guys wacked out theories, be my guest. This is a classic instance of someone reading into the text of scripture, concocting a hypothesis and overwhelming being lead by the nose by his presuppositions. Clearly a scientifically sound method.

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#4

Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/16/2008 2:37 PM

Interesting theory, but it does appear to add up. Another one of my beliefs was shot down while doing research for a blog entry, too. Apparently, Rudolph is not part of an old story or just a children's song. He was a marketing ploy!

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/16/2008 2:47 PM

Oops - my blog entry will be ready on 12/17 - sorry for posting an inactive link.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/16/2008 2:50 PM

No problem Savvy! I look forward to reading your piece tomorrow.

Like you said before, these theories do add up. It's so interesting how a little research can change everything you thought you knew about the holidays!

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#7

Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/16/2008 4:32 PM

Excellent blog. Now we've got to figure out how hallucinogenics inspired the Easter bunny. Someone had to be high when they came up with that one.

-j

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#12
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Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/17/2008 11:16 AM

Possibly the same one who changed the turkey and put the baby in the oven? ? ?

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#8

Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/16/2008 11:06 PM
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#9

Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/17/2008 5:45 AM

Having educated myself on various religions during my life, I have heard some fairly far fetched ideas regarding the origin of Christmas. I must say some of the ones presented here push the envelop, though I can be open minded enough to enjoy the stories and like someones take on the whole concept. On a more interesting note, I would like to know if there is a place to acquire these mushrooms, of course for independent experimentation of a purely scientific nature

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#14
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Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/26/2008 12:36 PM

If one were and outdoors-man in your neck o'the woods ye wood know

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#11

Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/17/2008 10:31 AM

Well, I should hope not! I'm a theological purist. Under my Christmas tree, baby Jesus always arrives driving the toy train - just like in ... uh..well, whatever.

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#13

Re: "Magical" Christmas Origins

12/18/2008 12:11 AM

I heard a version that Christmas replaced earlier Pagan tradition to meet relatives and friends who passed away, so dying tree could take them there.

Also, speaking of mushrooms... There is a rumor about Columbus who wanted to come to India to buy some grass they used to smoke, make paper for money, ropes, but found another Indians who sold him wrong grass to smoke, that's how tobacco come to Europe: by mistake.

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