Advent Calendar / 16 December
Hey, what’s this? Dogs?
No, not dogs… Dogs do not have horns…
So why are there goats at the Christmas Market??
They’re Yule Goats, of course!
Just like the Christmas Pig, the Yule Goat in Scandinavian traditions probably goes as far back as to pre-Christian days. Goats were connected to the Old Norse god Thor, who rode the sky in a chariot drawn by two goats.
The Yule Goat nowadays usually only appears as a Christmas ornament made out of straw etc. The most famous Yule Goat in Sweden is found – briefly – each year in the town of Gävle. I say briefly, because it is traditionally always burnt down almost immediately. Not as an official rite, but an unofficial one.
In the 19th century, however, before ‘Father Christmas’ entered into Scandinavian traditions, it was the Yule Goat who came with Christmas gifts. In early Christmas cards, the Goat and the Tomte/ Father Christmas can also be seen together:
A thought of my own (although perhaps I’m not the first to make the connection) is that in Biblical/ Christian tradition, we also have the Scapegoat…
“The rite is described in Leviticus 16. Since this goat, carrying the sins of the people placed on it, is sent away to perish, the word "scapegoat" has come to mean a person, often innocent, who is blamed and punished for the sins, crimes, or sufferings of others, generally as a way of distracting attention from the real causes. In Christian theology, the story of the scapegoat in Leviticus is interpreted as a symbolic prefiguration of the self-sacrifice of Jesus, who takes the sins of humanity on his own head…” (Wikipedia)
It kind of closes the circle of religious symbolism, doesn’t it?
The Scapegoat becoming the Bringer of gifts...