Behind Door #17: Goat Attacked!

17 December 2006 at 20:51 Leave a comment

When I posted yesterday’s “goat still standing” update, I didn’t realize that the Christmas goat had survived an attack on Friday night. The Gävlebock Web site has pictures of the goat’s leg being repaired. Someone tried to set fire to it, but apparently, the flame retardant limited any damage.

When I stopped by a local bookstore this afternoon, I found a book called Pagan Christmas in their holiday display. I started leafing through, thinking that I might find some pictures of (or at least a mention of) Krampus. There wasn’t much to be found. From my albeit quick look through the book, it seemed like the authors were more interested in proving a connection between the red-and-white Christmas color scheme — à la Santa’s suit — and red-and-white, hallucinogenic fly agaric mushrooms.

Before I put the book back on the shelf, on a whim really, I decided to take one last look at the index, and, sure enough, there was a listing for “Yule buck.” It turns out, according to the authors, that there’s a connection between Yule bucks (e.g., Scandinavian straw Christmas goats) and Yule logs. Both were burned around the winter solstice, and the ashes were thought to have healing properties. So, really, the whole point of straw goats is to be burnt.

I guess I can empathize a little with the Gävle town elders who want to keep the “world’s largest Christmas goat” standing, as a tourist attraction, throughout the Christmas season. (And having been to Gävle, I can attest to the relative sparseness of tourist attractions. The best thing going when I visited was the truck parked on the town square where you could by the most delicious fresh-friend donuts with their outsides all crispy and their insides like warm, cardamom-scented clouds.)

Maybe there’s another answer, though. I keep thinking of Kafka’s parable of the leopards, where the leopards come to the temple and drink the sacred wine every night. Eventually, the priests just make the leopards a part of the ritual.

Why not make the burning official? The goat could could fulfill its destiny, and the town tourist bureau would get an event guaranteed to draw visitors. It could be Sweden’s answer to Burning Man, but without the nudity. It’s winter there after all.


Entry filed under: Folklore, Julkalendar, Sweden.

Update: Goatwatch 2006 Behind Door #18: I’m Probably Going to Hell…

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