The Chap In The (Red) Cap . . . Revisited

Yea, I know what you’re thinking. Chap in the Red Cap: that’s Santa, right? Um, well. Not really. No.

The Chap in the Red Cap was an article I posted on ‘crimsonprose’ way back last year. May 25th 2014, to be exact. Check it out. You’ll see it’s about the Roman mystery cult of the god Mithras.

It wasn’t the most successful post (it rated 3 likes, and 2 comments from the one reader, to which I replied). But the subject long had bugged me and, not wanting to load it with references, citations and umpteen links, and thus to publish it on my other blog (Crimson’s History) I wrote it as my alto ego Iris Einstein (it’s a long-standing jokey thing). And then I forgot it—until this last autumn.

Why was it suddenly getting hits? And not just ones and twos. It’s rapidly become the single most active post (disregarding the unspecified ‘Home/Archives’ always listed in the stats.) From September to October the number of hits doubled. From October to November they doubled again. And even as I write this post the December hits have exceeded even those of the stats-topping ‘Home/Archives’! Massive. It seems The Chap in the Red Cap has gone viral.

I’m sure if the god Mithras were still in our midst he’d be delighted with this. For tomorrow, Christmas Day, will be his birthday.

CIMRM 344CIMRM 344: ‘Rock Born’ Mithras from San Clemente, Rome
Though the rock more resembles a pine cone

Ah, you thought it was Jesus Christ born that day? No. Once the Romans got hold of Christianity—on an official basis—they adopted many a pre-existing holy day, not only Christmas and Easter.

And not only is Christmas Day the god Mithras’s birthday, but our special Christmas saint—Santa Claus—wears the very same (red) Phrygian hat. In fact he wears all the same red gear.

CIMRM 1083 CIMRM 1083 showing (2nd register from top) Mithras born from a fir tree
Tauroctony with modern recolouring, from Neuenheim, Germany,

And not only that, but doesn’t the chap in the red Phrygian hat arrive in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer? I wonder how’s that?

Fly Agaric

Fly Agaric (source: Wiki Commons)

Could it be Rudolf with his nose so bright has been nibbling a certain red-capped mushroom? Fly agaric is extensively found in the Russian woodlands and arguably the source of Mithras’ red hat (both are earth-born). Oh, didn’t I tell you? Most of those hits I’ve had have come from there. From Russia.

So, on this eve of this, Mithras’s special day . . .

Merry Yuletide

May I wish all my readers a happy You ‘ll Tide!

About crispina kemp

Spinner of Asaric and Mythic tales
This entry was posted in History, Thoughts and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Chap In The (Red) Cap . . . Revisited

  1. Joy Pixley says:

    Great post! I always love Mithra stories, and I’d forgotten about the red outfit part.

    Liked by 1 person

    • crimsonprose says:

      I had become quite obsessed about the Mithra cult; researching and writing the post broke me of it. It remains the single one post with consistently high hits. Kids doing homework? Though I have to note, many of those hits come from within the former USSR. Which just happens to be the area with strongest cultural associations with fly agaric.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joy Pixley says:

        Interesting, I hadn’t known about that connection. I got interrupted partway through reading the longer post and hope to get back to it, but wow, what a thorough examination you’ve done! Definitely some intriguing ideas there for world-building, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        Like I said, I’d been obsessed with the subject. Because there’s no surviving literature, only potentially misunderstood comments from contempories, the whole set up remains a mystery, and if there’ one thing I can’t resist, it’s a mystery. It was a long research process, my every tentative theory collapsing as I acquired more evidence. I’m still not 100% happy with the conclusion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joy Pixley says:

        I can see why this mystery captured your attention! And with so much time elapsed and so little solid evidence, I suspect no theory will ever be fully supported.

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        No, and over the years the theories have changed. Though I think, at least in this century, just a handfull remain.

        Liked by 1 person

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