Famous Goats: Yule Goat

You may or may not recognize this straw decoration from IKEA. He is called the Yule Goat, and as you have probably guessed by now, he is part of a Swedish Christmas tradition (explained below):

There are several stories about the origins of the Yule Goat - in Finland the Yule Goat was an ugly animal that scared children, in Scandinavia it was invisible and demanded gifts. I'm beginning to detect a theme here about the history Christmas in Northern Europe (if you've heard David Sedaris's Santaland Diaries with his description of St. Nicholas, you'll catch my drift). Anyway, the story morphed into the Yule Goat being the gift giver by the 19th century, and eventually into Father Christmas, who is still called the Yule Goat in Finland.

The straw Yule Goats that are similar to the one sold at IKEA are sometimes used as a prank at Christmas-time. The prank is that you place the little straw goat at a friend's house without anyone knowing. When the goat is found, it is passed on to another friend's house. Sounds harmless enough - and could be kinda fun, especially if you do a lot of visiting during the holidays.

AND, for the pièce de résistance, here is a link to the "Goat Cam" - The Famous Christmas Goat of Sweden (or Gävle Goat), built every year since 1966 measuring about 49 feet tall. On New Year's Eve the goat is torched in celebration. The Goat Cam might be a handy link to keep around - and might be more entertaining than listening to Dick Clark and watching the ball drop in Times Square.

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