First came the Goats…then the Reindeer

Dear Reader:

If you are thinking this might be a strange time to hear about a Scandinavian Christmas folklore story…look around you…especially at the stores…drug stores, retail stores…any kind of store…and you will find Christmas in abundance. Halloween and Thanksgiving don’t stand a chance against the “BIG” commercialized, ‘make or break’ holiday for retailers.

I found this unique story on a Home & Family segment of Hallmark yesterday morning . ( Debbie Matenopoulos and Cameron Mathison had someone in doing a Christmas craft which turned out be to straw goat for Christmas…which I found slightly odd but still interesting.)

I admit it…I don’t enjoy making crafts very much…in fact I usually avoid them like the plaque unless I am buying one…but I am proud to say that one time I actually did help my Lowcountry History Club make Appalachian straw husk dolls for Christmas one year.

Three of my students stayed after school one afternoon with me in October. I, then, invited an artisan from a local craft store to bring the supplies and teach the four of us how to make the straw dolls…wherein at the next meeting (after the sharing the history of the craft) we all taught the rest of the club how to make their corn husk doll so everyone had a gift (Christmas tree ornament) for their family at Christmas. They really were cute with added red and green decorations for the tree.

But a straw husk goat?….My curiosity got the best of me and I stayed tuned…discovering  the history and folklore behind it. Every year my own children’s favorite time around the holidays was studying Christmas customs around the world.. Now… even as a grown-up, I still love learning about different customs and cultures too.

The goat symbolism all started way back in Norse mythology with their “Big Boy” god named Thor…who always arrived in a flying chariot pulled by two goats who represented food and plenty following the harvest season in the Scandinavian countries.

In Sweden, Norway, and Finland…farmers were supposed to save the last two bundles of wheat from the harvest fields to make a Yule Goat. These last two wheat bundles were deemed magical and would assure families that there would be enough food for the winter and holidays.

The Scandinavians took the bundles and created straw “Yule Goats” to place around their tables and mantles for prosperity…soon they just became part of the Christmas decor and their legacy. When the idea/story of a Santa Claus with elves immigrated from southern Europe to the northern Scandinavian countries …Santa and the elves began appearing in a sleigh pulled by a goat to bring presents and goodies to good little boys and girls.

Today one small town (Gavle, Sweden) has become world famous for making the largest (Guinness World record) straw goat for the Christmas season annually!

There is only one hitch…somewhere along the way it appears that the idea of the custom was extended (by some amateur arsonists) to burning it down before Christmas arrives… much to the dismay of the residents. Every year bets are now taken on how long the straw goat survives… producing a rather strange fiery history.

Norwegians have made the most of their “goat” symbol at Christmas…even in breweries and Martor, a famous goat and self-edible blogger, poses each year for Christmas cards…(they have to take the picture quickly, however, before Martor eats the wreath! 🙂 Corn husk goats decorate Scandinavian trees.



So until tomorrow…It is time to say “Good-Bah” (sorry…just couldn’t help myself)…but it is time to start the Christmas spirit…because if not you are already… almost 10 months behind…one should show the Christmas spirit each and every day of the year! 🙂

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Guess who will be visiting with “Auntie Vickie” next week…Gertie, the one surviving chicken of Luke’s and Chelsey’s…after a dog attack sadly soon after their move. But Gertie seemed right at home in the secret garden in all the shade and foliage in Vickie’s back yard.

Luke and Chelsey are off to Iceland on their vacation and super excited about it…Barley and Chloe, their dogs, are staying with Chelsey’s parents while they are away. Barley seemed to know he was ‘back home’…he kept sniffing the air…like he remembered it from somewhere..we still miss them terribly…but now we have Gertie for a week!

Marcia sent me a picture of her beautiful maple tree from Clarendon, NH…the last few years the weather hasn’t been conducive to pretty colors but Marcia thinks this might be the year again…she will keep sending scenes of the different colors in stages…by the end it will be all yellow…and amazingly gorgeous!

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to First came the Goats…then the Reindeer

  1. bcparkison says:

    Goats are kinda cute.
    My aunt up ,in Acton Ma., said a week or so ago the tree were still green . Here we are so dry things are just turning brown.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Our problem too…I honestly can not remember when it rained last…it has truly been weeks on end with bright sunshine, blue skies, hot humidity and heat…we are stuck in a Groundhog Day syndrome that is getting pretty depressing…and still no (even small) percentage or chance of rain in a ten-day forecast….hard to remember when we have gone this long with no rain…so we will have dark crackle leaves falling soon too I fear.

      Liked by 1 person

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