The Shamanic Origins of Christmas Traditions
One could trace the origin of the story of Santa Claus and Christmas tradition to several theories, the most famous one being the story of Saint Nicholas, a fourth-century Greek saint known for his generosity.
Another theory links Santa Claus’ red and white color scheme to a genius Coca-Cola advertising campaign. Yet, elements of Santa Claus’ tale and life, especially from the very popular ’Twas The Night Before Christmas’ poem recited every year by millions around the world, reveal a different story.
When one thinks of Christmas and this time of year, one immediately imagines the colors red and white, from the gift wraps to Christmas sweatshirts and of course Santa Claus famous red and white attire. A red and white scheme is clear in the context of this holiday and the traditions surrounding it.
Santa Claus’ archetypal image can be dated to hundreds if not thousands of years, even found in the most unpredictable places and times.
Since pre-Christian times, this time of year has always been a time of festivities and celebration, with music, dancing, banquets, and gatherings.
Germanic peoples, for example, had the Midwinter festival, Yule, which occurred around the Winter Solstice (21st December). Also, the Romans had the festival of Saturnalia, an ancient festival in honor of the god Saturn, held on the 17th of December through to the 23rd if December.
In the case of this article, we’ll be dealing with the Siberian and Arctic regions, where shamans dropped into locals’ homes with a bag full of magic mushrooms as presents in late December.
“Santa is a modern counterpart of a shaman, who consumed mind-altering plants and fungi to commune with the spirit world”, he says, “as the story goes, up until a few hundred years ago these practicing shamans or priests connected to the older traditions would collect Amanita muscaria (the Holy Mushroom), dry them, and then give them as gifts on the winter solstice,” according to John Rush, an anthropologist, and instructor at Sierra College.
Amanita muscaria is found throughout the Northern Hemisphere under conifers and birch trees, just like presents found under the Christmas tree by excited and happy children. This explains the tradition of the Christmas tree and the gifts, wrapped in red and white, placed under the tree just like the magic mushrooms.
Amanita muscaria is classified as poisonous, this might be a reason the shamans of that time initially hang the fresh Amanita muscaria to dry on tree branches, just like the colorful ornaments on a Christmas tree.