Science News

Santa Is High on Mushrooms

Sun, 16th Dec 2001

Part of the show Pain, and Pain-relief (analgesia)

I've even managed to dig up some dirt on Santa Claus. Have you ever wondered where Santa's traditional costume comes from? Coca-Cola say that they came up with the red and white image in the 1930's - but there is an alternative theory, and that is that Santa's outfit is meant to symbolise a type of magic mushroom which has a red cap and white dots. A guy called Patrick Harding from Sheffield University came up with this theory a few years ago. Apparently in Lappland, where Santa is supposed to come from, people used to use magic mushrooms to get high, long before alcohol appeared on the scene. Traditionally only the village holy man would be able to take the mushrooms "neat" so to speak. They were too strong for the villagers and for the reindeer. So to get high, the villagers used to eat the yellow snow that the shaman had relieved himself because it still contained traces of muscimol which is what was in the magic mushrooms. So Santa the might be an old village shaman who cries out "Ho Ho Ho" because he's high on magic mushrooms!


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