vendredi 7 décembre 2007

About Amanita muscaria and Christmas

On these days of pre-Christmas celebrations, a bit of history and legend. Amanita muscaria, or the fly agaric, is very related to Santa Claus. I always saw these mushrooms to decorate my Christmas tree but I didn´t get the link...

First, the fly agaric was always linked to Siberia and northern countries. For instance, it is said that Viking warriors, called "Bezerker", were ingesting these mushrooms before going to war, and that the state in which they got, called the "bezerk-raging", was directly due to the fly agaric.

It is also said that Koyak Siberian tribes (XVII- XVIII centuries) were making tea with Amanita muscaria and that people had to drink the urine of those that had taken the tea in order to recycle the psychoactive substances... The active ingredients of Amanita muscaria are not metabolized by the body, and so they remain active in the urine. In fact, it is safer to drink the urine of one who has consumed the mushroom than to eat the mushroom directly, as many of the toxic compounds are processed and eliminated on the first pass through the body.
Some scholars argue that this is the origin of the phrase “to get pissed,” as this urine-drinking activity preceded alcohol by thousands of years.

The legend also says that some Finnish people, after some ingestion of the fly agaric, had seen reindeers in the sky (with diamonds?) carrying a big fat man dressed with the colours of Amanita muscaria... Is this the origin of Santa Claus?
In fact reindeers are known to eat mushrooms as well and their urine was also drunk for its psychedelic effects.
Now ethnobotanists studying Christmas origins affirm that Amanita muscaria is present on Christmas trees due to its ectomycorrhizal relationship with coniferous trees and because its a symbol of luck.

So, is Christmas such a Christian tradition? I knew it was an ode to capitalism, but it turned out to be as well a form to celebrate tribal people of pre-christian northern Europe.
So my dear, still getting depressed by Christmas consumerism? Or wishing now to celebrate?

3 commentaires:

Daemios a dit…


Well... is christmas a christian tradition? December 25th is Christ's birthday...

And the figure of Santa Claus comes from he merging of many images: (1) the figure of normandic god Odin caughting misbehaving children in his bag and rewarding those that offer sugar and carrots to his horse (i guess this is also the origin of Sinterklaass), (2) St Nicholas, a generous turkish bishop and (3) Kris Kringle (Christkindl)m a fingure of baby Jesus promoted by the luteran church to discourage the use of St Nicholas.

The modern Santa Clause is a totally northamerican (as in US) invention. It began with a poem from Washingtons Irving at early 1800's about New York's dutch folklore, he gave him the present waggon and ability to fly over the trees. Cartoonist Thomas Nast made him a toy-maker and made the North Pole his home in the late 1800's.

The Red and White colours were standarized when bostonian printer Louis Prang introduced christmas cards (a british tradition) to america and ditributed a fat, red-suited santa in 1885. Finally, this colours were popularized by the not-so-cathollic CocaCola Co. in 1930 when he appeared enjoying Cocacola. This incremented consumers during winter and to children in general. And CocaCola is really to blame for the transition from a religious festivity to a commercial celebration (heck, maybe it is STILL religious after all!)

So, from where I stand it is clear it's a religious festivity that got merged with pagan european traditions and quickly became an american icon, nowadays having much more to do with consumerism than with religion or family values.

Sorry for the lenght, but you made an open invitation for answering... I still like your interpretation better... so I gues we'll give amanitas muscarias to our children in christmas!

Elotzontli a dit…

Thanks for all those precisions. I found also that Santa´s modern image was built by CocaCola but I like better that he was first seen by people under the influence of Amanita...
the length is ok don´t worry, but shouldn´t you be packing instead jajaja?!

Anonyme a dit…


When ever I surf on web I come to this website[url=].[/url] really contains lot of useful information. I am sure due to busy scedules we really do not get time to care about our health. Here is a fact for you. Research points that about 60% of all United States adults are either chubby or weighty[url=].[/url] So if you're one of these citizens, you're not alone. In fact, most of us need to lose a few pounds once in a while to get sexy and perfect six pack abs. Now next question is how you can achive quick weight loss? You can easily lose with with little effort. If you improve some of your daily diet habbits then, its like piece of cake to quickly lose weight.

About me: I am author of [url=]Quick weight loss tips[/url]. I am also health expert who can help you lose weight quickly. If you do not want to go under painful training program than you may also try [url=]Acai Berry[/url] or [url=]Colon Cleansing[/url] for fast weight loss.