November 16, 2008

Goat Folklore for The Holidays

The story of the Cornucopia or horn of plenty comes from Greek mythology.

Amalthea was the goat who raised Zeus on her milk. Her horn was accidentally broken off while playing with Zeus. Zeus, in remorse, gave her back her horn. The horn then was said to have supernatural powers that would give the person in possession of it whatever he or she wished for. This gave rise to the legend of the cornucopia.

Have you seen goat figures of braided straw or wheat adorned with red ribbon while shopping for Christmas ornaments? These goat figures represent a traditional gift giver of Scandinavian countries. His name Julbuck, literally translated means Yule Buck or Christmas Goat. Julbuck folklore can be traced back to the Viking days and the goat at the side of Thor (the ancient god of thunder).

A bit of folklore about the Christmas Goat goes something like this…during the Christian Era, Julbuck was thought to appear as an evil horned animal demanding gifts at times of wild merry making. In the 18th century a rural tradition was that young men would wear sheep skin and animal horns roaming thru villages during Christmas holidays scaring children, telling rude jokes while begging for ale. (Sounds like Halloween to me). As time passed and during the 19th century Julbuck became the loving Christmas goat accompanying Jul-Tomte(Christmas Elf).

Julbuck laden with baskets full of gifts for all.
Translation of Jul - a celebration of the harvest for the year and the end of the working year.
Translation of Bukken (shorten to buck) -goat to be slaughtered to celebrate Jul.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting info.


Hot Belly Mama - taking it all back said...

ah, you are a true lover of goats. I want a supernatural goat horn!

City Mouse said...

It's always amazing to me how all of our modern Yule traditions have such interesting beginnings. Neat information. Thanks! (And viva goats!)