Julbocken – a Christmas goat?? You have goat to be kidding me!!!!! We couldn’t talk about Swedish advent without giving julbocken a mention.
People used to believe that the ‘yule’ goat was an invisible spirit that would appear before Christmas to ensure that all the holiday preparations were done. The goat eventually took the role of a gift giver and is sometimes seen alongside Santa. (Tomten)
The tradition dates back thousands of years and it’s still relevant today.
The world’s largest straw goat has been built in Gävle every year at the beginning of Swedish advent. This has taken place since 1966. It is thirteen metres high, seven metres long and weighs 3.6 tonnes. One thousand man hours are needed for its construction. WOW!
The goat was intended to attract customers to the local shops and restaurants but has now become a worldwide celebrity. @gavlebocken has 12,3k global friends on Instagram.
If you are curious to find out more, the Gävlebocken has a fan page filled with fun and interesting facts.
In 2023, the Gävlebocken’s demise wasn’t due to fire, but due to flocks of blackbirds and magpies desperately looking for some winter sustenance. Because of hay shortages due to bad harvests in 2023, the organisers of Gävlebocken had to use straw that had old grain still attached.
The burning of julbocken
The julbock in Gävle has been destroyed or damaged a shocking thirty-eight times over the past fifty-six years being subjected to repeated arson attacks. Needless to say, the security becomes more intense and more costly each year.
Most Swedish homes have their own julbock (made of hay and bound together with red ribbon) in their collection of decorations, supposed to symbolise fertility and good luck, they are usually placed at the entrance of people’s homes to greet guests.
So, if you don’t manage to get to Gävle this year, you can buy these decorations everywhere! Maybe you can have your very own julbocken at home.