The straw goat - Julbocken

The goat originally was a symbol of the devil who accompanied St Nicolaus in the Medieval Plays. That figure - the goat as the devil - took place in the rural pranks which is told about from the seventeenth century in Sweden. At that time, men dressed as a goat with fur skins and sometimes masks and sometimes horns too went around to frighten people usually in the night between Christmas Day and Boxing Day. That can be the origin of the Christmas Goat ("julbocken").

But the goat gradually became a nicer being. In the eighteenth century the Christmas goat was the being coming with the gifts. He is nowadays replaced by the Christmas Man, at first similar to the brownie who lived in the barn of the farms, but now the American type similar to the Santa Claus is what you see.

And for about a hundred years ago some people began to make goats of straw - at first as a joke -and they put that goat anonymously in the porch of neighbours or friends and usually a piece of paper with a funny or naughty rhyme was attached to the straw goat. Why did they use red ribbons when binding the straw together? I think that is because we connect the red color with Christmas, but that i my own opinion. But as a child I have seen old straw goats which were bound with straw too.

Nowadays goats bound with usually red ribbons are a very common Christmas decoration in Sweden and sold at every Christmas market. They really are very nice!


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