Thursday, December 12, 2013

yule goat

I enjoy learning the history, evolution and variety of what are now the Christmas holiday celebrations. The ancient pagan celebrations may have been folded into orthodox Christianity but the old ways haven't died. We still celebrate Jul, simply in a modern form.  The ancient customs feel  familiar, we've only forgotten why.

Christmas while once officially banned in Puritan England and New England, yet its celebrations lived, albeit underground, just as it had been for millennium. I was unfamiliar with the story of the Yule Goat until I found this passage from the Nordic Thoughts blog. I hope you enjoy it.

The Yule Goat
"The Yule Goat's origins might go as far back as to pre-Christian days. A popular theory is that the celebration of the goat is in connection to the Norse god Thor, who rode the sky in a chariot drawn by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnj├│str. It is also known that in old agricultural Scandinavia, one of the the last sheaf of corn bundled in the harvest was credited with magical properties as the spirit of the harvest and saved for the Yule celebrations, called among other things ‘julbocken’ (the Yule Goat).

In Sweden, people thought of the Yule Goat as an invisible spirit that would appear some time before Christmas to make sure that the Yule preparations were done right. Objects made out of straw or roughly-hewn wood could also be called the Yule Goat, and in older Scandinavian society a popular Christmas prank was to place this Yule Goat in a neighbour’s house without them noticing; the family successfully pranked had to get rid of it in the same way.
During the 19th century the Yule Goat’s role all over Scandinavia shifted towards becoming the giver of Christmas gifts, with one of the men in the family dressing up as the Yule Goat"

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