Shroom with a view

December 17, 2009

Hallucinogenic mushrooms may be responsible for the myth that Father Christmas was pulled through the air by reindeer. National experts on mushrooms, mythology and the environment met at Sheffield Hallam University at the end of last month to talk about the origins of Christmas. "People probably don't think of Christmas and mushrooms as having anything to do with each other," said Ian Rotherham, director of the university's Tourism, Leisure and Environmental Change Research Unit. "But in ancient times, reindeer in Scandinavia would eat hallucinogenic mushrooms and leap around the tundra, to the amazement of the Lapps, who were probably also eating the mushrooms." He said this "almost certainly" explained how the story of airborne reindeer came about.

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