Thursday, December 20, 2007


Okay -- this has to be the best "Christmas" symbol ever! Have you ever seen those straw goats wrapped in red ribbon? They are traditionally seen in Sweden around the time of the feast of Saint Lucia. The largest one ever was 41 feet tall.

Anyway, it's called a julboken (yule goat,) and besides being based on a rather sketchy mythology (throughout history, goats have been seen as symbols of lust and mischief, traits which in turn have been attributed to the devil. Some think the julboken became a symbol of the season when plays about the saints had a goat-figure in them, at first as a malicious character, but who through time became seen as a harmless troublemaker. Later on, the goat even became the companion and mount of Saint Nicolas ) the giant one that is built in Gavle Sweden has been burnt down (not on purpose) or destroyed so many times, it's become a tradition.

The bulding of huge julboken was started in 1966 and since then, goats have been burned 28 times (there are actually two groups that make separate goats, neither of which seem to be immune to vandals , who at times have apparently dressed as Santa and gingerbread men to do the sordid deed.)

The julboken has been run over, vandalized, and buned throughout the years and it's survival rate stands at around 48%. As of today, one of the two 2007 goats has been tipped over, but no fires as of yet.

(Click for webcam)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Curse of the Billy Goat

So -- one of the many goals of this blog is to start to gather what someday I hope will be the fodder for a Goat Museum or the Goat Hall of Fame. Being that I have found two notations on the internet of cities (one in Prague the other in Tver Russia) that are supposedly planning goat museums, I am actually leaning towards the Hall of Fame. But anyway, here is the story of one of the most prominent goats in sports.

His name was Murphy (or it might have been Sinovia according to Wikipedia) and in October 6, 1945, his owner William Sianis, a tavern owner in Chicago, walked him into Wrigley Field for Game 4 of the World Series (Chicago Cubs vs. Detroit Tigers). He had two box seat tickets and he and Murphy (who was adorned with a coat which read "We've Got Detroit's Goat") were allowed to watch some of the game. However, they were ejected before the end of the game by Cub's owner Philip Wrigley due to Murphy's odor. Sianis (a Greek immigrant) then placed the now-infamous curse upon team, declaring that they would never win another pennant or play a World Series in Wrigley Field. The Cubs lost the series and Sianis sent a telegram to the team stating "Who stinks now?"

Although multiple attempts have been made to break the curse (with some success i.e. the Cubs seem to do better when a goat is in the house), Sianis's nephew-in-law says that the curse will not be broken until the Cubs show a true fondness for goats and allow them into the field because they like them!