The reason Santa?s reindeer can fly has been explained in down-to-earth terms by Dr. Ian Edwards, head of education at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland. He?s hallucinating on fly-agaric mushrooms.

Dr. Edwards says the story of the flying reindeer spread south to central Europe from Lapland in the 19th century. It originated with the Sami people of Lapland, who have one of the oldest indigenous cultures in the world.

?They used to feed red and white fly-agaric mushrooms to their reindeer, then drink the animals? urine,? he says. ?The idea was to receive the drug in a safer and more processed form. Drinking the urine would give them a high similar to taking LSD. One of the results was that they thought they and their reindeer were flying through space, looking down on the world.?

Edwards also believes Santa?s red coat could have been inspired by the bright color of the mushroom.

He says he understands the tradition is not practiced as much as it once was.

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