Germans like to give each other little marzipan versions of the red toadstool at the start of a new year. But how did the poisonous Fly Agaric become a symbol of good fortune? The origin of this custom may go back to the Germanic god Odin (Wuotan), who was not only the god of War, but also of Ecstasy, Poetry and Magic. According to legend, Odin rode across the sky on the night of the winter solstice, and wherever the saliva of his horse fell on the earth, red toadstools would grow nine months later. It is quite possible the ancient Germans ingested Fly Agarics for their hallucinogenic properties. Though the marzipan version provides a safer kind of bliss.
Today, people also call a lucky person a "Glückspilz", a "good luck mushroom" or "lucky mushroom". This expression may actually come from class-conscious 18th century England, where social upstarts were called "mushrooms". Needless to say, this was not meant kindly. "Du bist ein Glückspilz!" however just means: "You're a lucky devil!" May we all be that in the New Year.