WE’VE MOVED HERE! COME SAY HELLO!
Scampering around the top of the planet the rather fine herds of reindeer can be found all throughout the Arctic tundra, there’s even a small pocket of them in Scotland. Of course, much like the Scots, what Reindeer love to do more than anything is to become inebriated.
Yes, one knows you want to hear about how they can take enough drugs to knock out Queen Victoria, and believe me that is a few – salacious and sordid details must wait, first a little background on this furry fellow.
The reindeers most renowned attribute is that it travels further than any other land animal and can cover 3,000 miles in a year. What’s more they can gallop at marvellous speeds … up to 50mph, often to escape swarms of marauding insects… renowned for their ability not to travel 50mph.
Rather suited to all this gallivanting they are too, as they pass through the swampy summertime into the cold Arctic winter their feet actually change shape to suit. The hooves, spongey during the summer like a rather comfortable gentlemen’s crepe sole, harden and shrink in the winter. This allows the hard rim of the hoof to appear so that the deer doesn’t slip and slide, and has a rather natty tool to dig through the snow to eat to boot. Although its preferred food is plant based there is surprisingly some evidence that they like to chomp on the odd lemming, they’re not adverse to having a munch on fish dish or even something eggy.
However it’s not these carnivorous ways that have given the reindeer a shock early entry into the Proceedings of the Ever so Strange. You see they really really like psychedelic magic mushrooms… of the species Amanita muscaria to be precise… also known as the fly agaric or the-big-red-and-white-sort-that-gnomes-make-their-houses-in.
Reindeer love eating these midget’s edifices so much that you can actually herd them just by chucking the mushrooms on the floor. The active ingredient in these mushrooms can’t be broken down, which means it comes out of the body in your wee. If you haven’t guessed why I’m being so crass it’s that you can even herd reindeer by simply taking a slash into the snow, providing of course that you’ve been partaking in the fly agaric mushroom yourself. This also goes at least some way in reasoning why shaman of the Sami people of Finland swear by a good glug of reindeer urine to get the night off to a bang.
The fly agaric has been part of the Sami’s rituals for centuries. It’s said that during the holidays just before the end of the year the shaman of Lapland would don their red and white mushroom coloured outfuits, and enter a house through the smoke hole or chimney, carrying a bag of fly agaric. It was also often said that he, and his reindeer could fly.
It is however up for debate whether some reindeer got caned enough to think their mate had a very shiny nose, up for further debate is whether the Shaman were ever stoned enough to enslave elves in a sweat shop to make toys, but at least it seems that these rather jolly present giving Sami shaman fellows are one of the myths that brought about our rather jolly friend Father Christmas.