Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Goat Friday

source w schedin

A traditional feature of Christmas in Sweden has been the Julbock, the Christmas Goat.

The nature of its role is subject to dispute, where the Julbock is sometimes thought to be closely associated with Tomte, the gnomish Swede equivalent of Santa Claus — or sometimes not at all.

Strangely, no one seems to know anymore. Swedish Christmas lore seems to have become mainstreamed in line with the rest of the Western world. Tomte himself, apparently, no longer resides under the floorboards but at the North Pole, as a good commercial Santa should.

Still, the Julbock remains central to the Swedes’ celebration of Christmas. Notably there’s the gigantic straw goat of Gävle, 150 kilometers north of Stockholm, which has been erected at the start of the Christmas season every year since 1966.

This year standing at more than 13 meters high, the Gävlebocken is intended to be ceremonially burned on New Years Eve as part of the seasonal festivities. However, part of this relatively recent tradition seems to be for sundry vandals to pre-emptively burn or otherwise destroy the thing almost as soon as it has been erected.

Since it was first erected on Dec. 3 in 1966, the goat has been hit by flaming arrows, run over by a car and even had its legs cut off — surviving only 10 times beyond Christmas Day.

So, it appears the Gävlebocken still has a sporting chance. May this unique yuletide tradition long continue.

With that upbeat thought, I take this opportunity to wish everyone

Merry Christmas


Happy New Year

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like that Christmas Goat is the butt of many a joke!

'Twas a very interesting piece Jacob.

You too have a great Christmas!

Here's mud in your eye old boy!!!!!
( Kath raises glass)

22/12/06 10:41 AM  
Blogger Caz said...


Well done on the Xmas goat. Truly, you have exceeded my expectations!

You have proven yourself worthy of Goat Friday ownership.

Happy xmas to you and your family.


22/12/06 9:12 PM  
Blogger Jacob A. Stam said...

Thanks Kath and Caz.

A happy and safe Christmas and prosperous New Year to you both.

Cheers (raises glass): Jacob

22/12/06 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice piece, Jacob. Thanks, Caz, for directing your readers to it. I'm Swedish on my father's side and had never even heard of the Christmas Goat (or Tomte, or any of the other things I learned by reading the links; except lutfisk--THAT I had heard of!). So, thanks for the bit of ancestral education.

BTW, I love Goat Friday in general. Sure would love to see more of it!

23/12/06 12:47 PM  
Blogger Jacob A. Stam said...

Thanks for dropping by, Mrs Drunka, and for your encouragement. Goat Friday will go on...

If your Dad's still with us, you should ask him if he has any recollection of this stuff. I'm beginning to suspect that the Goat, Tomte, etc. may only have a regional following. Or something.

Perhaps someone should do a study of all this, if they haven't already.

And thanks also to Caz for linking to this.

24/12/06 10:56 AM  

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