Santa, his Flying Reindeer, and Mushrooms?

What is it about Santa, his Flying Reindeer, and Mushrooms?

The jolly old elf is at it again. Dressed in his red and white suit, flying through the skies, dropping gifts for children down chimneys throughout the world.

The Missing Link?

You may be surprised to learn that there are many similarities between Northern European Mythology and the present-day Santa and his flying reindeer.  Can the Santa story be traced to ‘magic’ or hallucinogenic mushrooms?

Santa lives in the North Pole, doesn’t he? It is not to say that there is a direct link, but it sure gives us ‘mushrooms’ for thought!


Shamans, dressed in red deer pelts, lived in Siberia and the Arctic regions. Does the red suit remind you of Santa?

The shamans consumed magic mushrooms that helped them communicate with the spirit world. These mushrooms (Amanita muscaria) are also known as ‘fly agaric’ or ‘holy mushrooms’ and are deep red with white flecks. They grow under conifers and birch trees throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Today, people bring pine trees into their homes and place gifts, wrapped in red and white, under the Christmas tree. And many Christmas tree ornaments in Europe have mushroom-shaped motifs.

During the winter solstice, the Shamans would collect mushrooms, dry them and then give them as gifts to people. In those days, the teepee-like homes had an opening in the roof, like a chimney, through which people would enter and exit because snow would block the doorways in winter. The shamans would drop their parcels through the chimney.

Well, Santa, where did you get that idea, to go down the chimney to deliver your gifts?

But wait, it gets better.

Siberian shamans had animal spirits that traveled with them in their vision quests. And reindeer, abundant in those regions, seek out those hallucinogenic fungi! It is very likely that the Siberian tribesmen ‘tripped’ with their reindeer, and saw them flying through the air. Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen? And Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen?


But what about the most famous reindeer of all? Yes, Rudolph, with his bright red mushroom-shaped nose, leading the pack.

Whether there are connections between Mythology, Santa, flying reindeer, and ‘magic’ mushrooms or not, Christmas remains the ‘Most Wonderful Time of the Year.’



GreenBox Family Farm Oyster Mushroom Kit does not contain any mushrooms with mind-altering or hallucinatory properties.


  • Story published in LiveScience. Dec. 20, 2012
  • Email Douglas Main or follow him on Twitter or Google+. Follow us @LiveScienceFacebook or Google+. Article originally on LiveScience.
  •  Mentioned in article: Douglas Main. Magic Mushrooms May Explain Santa & His 'Flying' Reindeer, December 20, 2012 (Reach him at
  • Douglas Main. 8 Ways Magic Mushrooms Explain Santa Story. December 18, 2013
  • James Arthur, Mushrooms and Mankind in The Book Tree, 2003
  • John Rush. Email in LiveScience.
  • Ruck. 5 Surprising Facts about Reindeer.
  • Donald Pfister. 5 Surprising Facts about Christmas.
  • Clement Clarke Moore. A Visit from St. Nicholas (T’was the night before Christmas). 1823 Poem.
  • Tales of Magic Mushrooms & Other Hallucinogens
  • Carl Ruck. 6 Surprising Facts about Mushrooms.