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)

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