Santa Claus, or so we’re told, was based on the original figure of Saint Nicholas. But flying reindeer don’t quite fit with the idea of a kindly saint. According to Sierra College professor John Rush, that’s because the reindeer weren’t added as part of a Christmas story or in relation to Saint Nicholas. Instead, they were a product of magic mushrooms.
Throughout Siberia—reindeer’s natural stomping grounds—one of the most ancient of shamanic traditions included the gathering, drying, and distribution of the Amanita muscaria mushroom. The distinctive mushroom, which grows at the base of trees, is red with white flecks (which is said to explain the traditional depiction of Santa as wearing a red suit with white lining). Rush says that the distribution of the dried shrooms led to some fanciful hallucinations, including some that involved one of the most common animals in the area—the reindeer. Tripping tribes began telling stories about flying reindeer that showed up with their presents.
Others point to a much more sobering source for the flying reindeer myth—the mind of Clement Clarke Moore, who wrote “The Night Before Christmas” in 1822. The first compilation of all things that make Santa Claus who Santa Claus is, the poem was originally titled “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and is considered by many to be the definitive source for Santa Claus lore.
But he had to get the idea from somewhere, right?
Like I said, I'm not trying to be a Scrooge or anything like that. My curiosity just got the best of me, ya know?
Coffee out on the patio again this morning. 75 or so predicted, but I have gingerbread to share anyway.