Julbock (Christmas Goat)

sglossaryjulbockThe Julbock or Yule-goat is a ubiquitous symbol of the winter holidays in Scandinavian countries.  A throwback to Pre-Christian times, the Julbock is another Pagan Yule symbol that was absorbed into Christian holiday customs. In the Norse pagan religion, the goat was the conveyance of the gods- early images of Odin in a goat-drawn cart are eerily similar to later depictions of Santa Claus.

As Christianity became the norm, the Yule-goat remained popular as a trickster figure, a stand-in for the devil who accompanied the elf Tomten, and later, St Nick, on gift-giving missions. It became customary for men of the villages to dress up as the julbock and play pranks on the unsuspecting.

Today, the Julbock is most often represented in modern times by a straw figurine of a goat, traditionally made from the last grain of the harvest, bundled in red ribbons and kept as a token of hope for the New Year.

glossaryjulbock
Tomten and the Julbock
Related Symbols:
corn dollyBrigid's cross

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rita Merete Hansen September 9, 2013 at 9:54 am

These days around Christmas time our children dress up like elf’s, goblins and trolls and go “julebukk”.

We make it fairly simple…. mom’s take their makeup and make some beautiful roses on the kids cheeks with the lipstick, some freckles with the eyeliner and some red or green clothes. And then the kids go out to ring doorbells and sing Christmas carols in return for some Christmas candy, clementines and such…. somewhat similar to Halloween ;)

This was a bigger tradition when I was young…still remember going “julebukk” every winter…..cherished memories of a very nice tradition.
It’s a shame it is a slowly dying tradition (being replaced with the “trick or treat” and commercialism of Halloween).

It is a good tradition :D

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Jennifer October 11, 2013 at 9:06 am

That sounds like a wonderful fun time. :)

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