Some pairings make sense this time of year, like jingle and bells or gingerbread and houses but have you ever heard of Santa Claus and mushrooms? This isn’t some new Christmas entrée or a novel way of decorating for the holidays. Instead, it is a long, strange trip, a story of how our modern image and story of Santa might be traced back to an ancient custom practiced by the indigenous people of the northernmost lands—a ritual involving the use of the mind-altering mushroom, Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric mushroom.
How is it that such a right jolly old elf dressed all in red and trimmed in white fur came to take a cosmic trip through the night on a gift-laden sled pulled by eight flying reindeer to slide down our chimneys, leaving presents not just under our trees but in our stockings? This lore is undeniably charming and full of magic, but have you ever wondered how this seasonal legend came to be?