Friday, December 25, 2009

It's a Swedish Christmas!

For this year's Christmas, I decided to get my family Swedish items in celebration of Bruce's heritage and do a little Swedish-themed blog post. Previously, I posted on Dutch traditions, including Chocolate letters, as my family is mostly Dutch.

In my research, I came across the Christmas Goat, or Julbock, who is ridden by the Swedish version of Santa Claus. Tomten is a gnome that lives under floor boards and rides a goat to deliver presents. Julbock ornaments and decorations are traditionally made out of straw, symbolizing good luck.

Since 1966, the town of
Gävle in Sweden has erected a large Julbock in the center of town, only to have it burned down 38% of the time. In 1971, another group joined in the making and now Gävle has two straw goats. This newer goat has a higher survival rate of 47%. (Wikipedia even has a chart both of the goats' demise and survival.) You can see a live webcam of this year's sad burnt goat here and read about the news here. This reminds me of MIT's pranks and pranksters, although I wish this one didn't involve destruction. Thus, the tradition even has a tradition.

This strange phenomenon does not surprise me given that I just learned of the Swedes tradition of watching a 1958 Donald Duck cartoon every Christmas eve at 3pm. Read more about this fascinating cultural custom here.

As they say in Sweden, God jul!

ABOVE IMAGE: screen capture by David in Delta from webcam, Dec. 13th, 10 days before the Julbock was burned