Christmas is commonly thought of as a Christian holiday (the birth of Jesus). Many Christian beliefs and traditions were borrowed from more ancient religions and mythologies. This is well documented by authors such as Gerald Massey, Godfrey Higgins, Robert Graves, Kersey Graves and many others. The virgin birth, the incarnation of God, the sacrament, Christmas, Easter, etc. have all been adopted/stolen by Christianity as its own. It is well documented by fundamentalists (apologists) that the Christmas traditions are Pagan in origin.. This simply means that their origin comes from the traditions of the country-folk (pagan). By contrast, the Pagan origins of most of the other attributes of Christianity are vigorously denied. It is also very easy to obscure, overlook and discredit the Egyptian, Mithraic, Germanic, Norse, Celtic, Greek, Hindu and Buddhist roots by lumping all non-Christian religions together and labeling them Pagan. These are certainly not simple country-folk religions. So to just say Christmas has Pagan roots, and not go further, is glossing over what exactly those roots are, and discrediting their study as worthless. Christmas icons, traditions and stories have hidden meanings. Although not initially apparent, a more thorough investigation reveals far more symbolic content (which is decipherable) than originally suspected. At the roots of this symbolism research is information about the secrets of the mushroom, regarding its habitats, forms, uses, preparations, and effects. Shaman of Siberia and the Russian icon, St. Nicholas, both play parts in the tale of Christmas, providing clues as to where Christmas came from and why there are certain symbols associated with the holiday. It is these types of clues that will help (the questors) in the deciphering of the symbols. Siberian Shaman used/use (despite governmental oppression) the Amanita muscaria as a religious sacrament. It is used for spiritual vision, out-of-body travel into the realms of the spirits, and as a plant-spirit guide in teaching and healing. The value of the inebriant is placed highly among the commodities of the native tribesmen, fetching reindeer pelts, meats, and all manner of tradable goods in payment and barter. Interesting to note: If you aren't quick enough in the hunt, you will find only the mushroom stubs, the rest greedily gobbled up by the hungry reindeer.
One of the traditions, of ornamenting a tree, comes from the tradition of "The Paradise tree", a fir tree decorated with apples (representing the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden). This ‘fruit’ will be discussed later as the Amanita. During Germany's Middle Ages, a popular play, which was symbolic of the paradise story, was staged on December 24th (the religious feast day of Adam and Eve) . Two more symbolic connections with the mushroom are the candles and cookies that were also hung on the tree (candles = Christ; cookies = wafers of the Christian sacrament). This ornament is of particular interest because of its association with the fruit of the tree of knowledge and the Amanita muscaria. This indicates that there have always been people "In the Know" from time to time. According to Apocryphal texts and other older ones, the "Fruit of the Tree of Life" and the more recently added "Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge" were originally one in the same.
So, why do people bring Pine trees into their houses at the Winter Solstice, placing brightly colored (Red and White) packages under their boughs, as gifts to show their love for each other and as representations of the love of God and the gift of his Sons life? It is because, underneath the Pine bough is the exact location where one would find this "Most Sacred" Substance, the Amanita muscaria, in the wild (in Nature). These mushrooms grow in a symbiotic/mycorrhizal relationship with the Pine tree, which means they always grow underneath it. The symbolic placing of gifts under the tree at Christmas is a sort of proxy-present-giving action, whereby the celebrants ritually mimic the work of God/Santa/Nature, by placing under the tree a gift (actually The gift). Big clue here: Winter brings rain; rain brings mushrooms, In the mountains, at Christmas time, under the Pine trees. Then and there will you find that which unlocks the key mysteries of the Universe, through a multi-dimensionalizing of the consciousness in a way that no other known substance can. This Gnosis (joining together of your mind with the mind of the Universal Consciousness) is what the Sages, Mystics, Teachers, and Prophets were attempting to communicate through their rampant symbolism. (Had they not feared persecution, they may have spoken of it openly and directly in public documents.) All over the world, people bring Coniferous trees into their houses and place brightly colored packages underneath them. In Nature, this is where you will find the Amanita muscaria (under coniferous trees). The actual mushroom "plant" is the underground "mycelium" or "mycorrhizae", which is directly attached to the tree roots; the mushroom itself is only the fruit-body of the mycelium. The mushroom is literally the Fruit of the Tree. They grow in a mycorrhizal (not parasitic) relationship with the tree. Many people follow the tradition/custom of bringing a tree into the home and putting presents under it, yet have absolutely no idea why. Even people that think they know, usually have no knowledge of these mushroom connections. The true symbolic meaning transcends dogmatic etymological and historical evidence, by revealing itself in the totally obvious iconography and historically associated myths and traditions.
The ancient shamanic use of Amanita muscaria in Siberia is well documented. Despite governmental oppression against its use, there are still many who refuse to accept the authorized state religion, and continue the shamanic traditions in secret. Just as the Siberian shaman (commonly dressing in red and white) would enter through the opening in the roof of a home where a ritual was to be done, Santa Claus also arrives on the roof and enters through the chimney. Just as the shamans would gather the mushrooms in bags which they would bring with them when performing a ceremony, Santa Claus also (on the Holy Day) brings presents in a bag. The Santa Claus we see today evolved from traditions developed in Germany. It is fairly common knowledge that the Weihnachtsmann (St. Nick) was an amalgamation of older Germanic/Norse gods such as Thor, Donner, Odin and Wotan. What's missing here is just as Santa flies through the skies in his sleigh, Odin (as well as the rest) rode through the sky in his chariot, which is depicted in the stars by "The Big Dipper". The Big Dipper is the chariot of Odin & Wotan, Thor, King Arthur, and even Osiris (of Egypt). The chariot that circles the North Star in a 24 hour period is thus also known as the sleigh of Santa Claus because it circles his mythological home, the North Pole. It is no surprise that Nordic/Germanic gods have connection to mushrooms in their mythology. As Thor throws his mushroom-shaped hammer to the ground, mighty thunders and lightning cracks cause the real mushroom(s) to appear. As the horses pulling Odin through the sky in his chariot become over-exerted, their blood-mingled spit falls to the ground and causes the Amanita mushrooms to grow at those exact points. The Osiris mythology has even more to add to this. To the Egyptians; South was up (North). Osiris was the lord of the underworld, the South, (South=down) which is why he circles the sky in the furthest possible lower (southern) area. Not only did Osiris ride the sky in a chariot, but after his death Isis found that an evergreen (Cedar) had grown overnight from a dead stump to full-sized (this also relates to the Djed pillar); which was understood as a sign of Osiris' rebirth and immortality. Interestingly, the traditional birth of Osiris is the 25th of December. The 25th of December was also celebrated annually by putting presents around the Cedar tree. This tradition is at least five thousand years old. The birth of Horus to the goddess-virgin-mother, Isis, is perhaps the eldest representation of the goddess/son mythology, yet it is impossible to know this or the real age of the Astro-theological-Virgo-giving-birth-to-the-child/god/star mythology for sure. However it is the oldest source I have found; it is very old. Drying the mushrooms was/is a necessary procedure typically accomplished by stringing them up (like popcorn) and hanging them above the hearth of the fireplace. shamans and lay people alike, would gather and dry them. They gather all they can since they are a valuable commodity. Reindeer (native to Siberia) are known to be quite fond of eating these mushrooms. The mythology of flying Reindeer reflects the supposed pharmacological effects of such a meal. It is important to point out that this Christmas/Winter Solstice celebration, with all its various counterparts, transcends the world's religions. The reason that this celebration is held all over the planet in various forms may have something to do with this other commonality at which we are looking; it is certainly entwined in the symbolism.