Today's topic teleports us directly to the Christmas period. In particular, Culturally Learning has decided to spend a traditional Swedish Christmas together, among its traditions, customs and particularities.
Among the delicious meatballs and fruit jellies, including jams, smoked turkey and marzipan: the Christmas season in Stockholm has a very special charm. Numerous markets color the short days of the Swedish capital with their lights. Such as Skansen or the famous Rosendal market, on the island of Djugarden, with its high quality craftsmanship.
However, there is an aspect that makes Swedish Christmas even more special and curious for those who grew up with the Christian ideal of the holiday. It is the Julbocken.
But what is it about?
The Julbocken is the famous "billy goat", which in Scandinavian countries replaces (or accompanies) the figure of Santa Claus. Its origins are rooted in pagan myths: there are numerous legends that accompany this figure. The most famous is the one according to which the God of Thunder, Thor, moved by means of a cart drawn by two goats.
Over the years, various pagan details have been added to these pagan legends which have contributed to enriching the tradition. For many decades, for example, the Yule festivals were celebrated in these areas. They helped shape the figure of the goat together with the one of Santa Claus. In Sweden, in fact, goats help Santa Claus in delivering gifts, effectively replacing both the reindeer and the image of the sled.
But the image that probably best embodies the Julbocken is the huge straw goat that every year, starting from the sixties, is built in the central square of the city of Gavle and that, punctually, is secretly set on fire by some vandals.
It can be said that by now construction and fire equally represent two parts of the same tradition. Every year the goat continues to be built and they have even come to set up real bets on the date when it will be destroyed.