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The story of Santa and his flying reindeer can be traced to an unlikely source: hallucinogenic or "magic" mushrooms, according to one theory.

"Santa is a modern counterpart of a shaman, who consumed mind-altering plants and fungi to commune with the spirit world," said John Rush, an anthropologist and instructor at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif.

Here are eight ways that hallucinogenic mushrooms explain the story of Santa and his reindeer.

1. Arctic shamans gave out mushrooms on the winter solstice.

According to the theory, the legend of Santa derives from shamans in the Siberian and Arctic regions who dropped into locals' teepeelike homes with a bag full of hallucinogenic mushrooms as presents in late December, Rush said.

"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," Rush told LiveScience in an email. "Because snow is usually blocking doors, there was an opening in the roof through which people entered and exited, thus the chimney story."

 2. Mushrooms, like gifts, are found beneath pine trees.
The Amanita muscaria mushroom, which is deep red with white flecks.

That's just one of the symbolic connections between the Amanita muscaria mushroom and the iconography of Christmas, according to several historians and ethnomycologists, or people who study fungi's influence on human societies. Of course, not all scientists agree that the Santa story is tied to a hallucinogen.

 3. Reindeer were shaman "spirit animals."

Reindeer are common in Siberia and northern Europe, and seek out these hallucinogenic fungi, as the area's human inhabitants have also been known to do. Donald Pfister, a Harvard University biologist who studies fungi, suggests that Siberian tribesmen who ingested fly agaric may have hallucinated that the grazing reindeer were flying.

 4. Shamans dressed like

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Posted

/facepalm

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Posted

Maybe a jolly old Elf sold them the mushrooms ...

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Posted

i always feel there some-kind connections between Mario & Santa, i just couldn't pin-point what it was.

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