Thursday 12 December 2013


Where, you might sometimes wonder, did people get the idea that Santa's reindeer flew?  Some books will tell you that it derives from the notion that the Norse god Thor had a wagon pulled by flying goats.  However, I think a more likely answer is to be found in Finland.  Here they believed that Old Man Winter flew through the air in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.  What, I hear you ask, is the origin of this belief?  Finnish shamans probably induced an ecstatic condition in which they believed they were flying by ingesting fly agaric mushrooms; but these have an unhappy side effect, in that they make you throw up.  Reindeer, however, consume these mushrooms without any such results and, if you then drink their urine, you will undergo the illusion that you are flying through the air.  In this, I  think, we probably have the origin of how reindeer and flying came to be associated.  If you don't believe me, next time you're shopping, buy a bottle of reindeer urine and try it out.

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