Well, that’s…flattering?

This just showed up on twitter:

jul goat

And I was equally baffled (and slightly defensive) so I looked it up and got articles entitled

Every Year, a Swedish Town Builds a Giant Straw Goat, And People Just Can’t Help Burning It Down



Apparently in Sweden every year they build an enormous goat but since it’s made of hay it’s like a siren for arsonists, and at this point the arson has become part of the tradition.  Giant animals and annual arson.   And then I read the tweet again and I thought, “Holy shit, twitter does get me.  Merry Christmas to me.

And Merry Christmas to you.  May it be lit with happiness and the glow of giant burning goats.

PS.  My favorite Christmas carol, for you.

If you’re easily offended and super-religious you might want to skip it and go pray for us instead.

PPS.  I’ve gotten the most amazing letters from people who’ve been helped, or who’ve been lucky enough to be able to help, or who’ve regained their hope in humanity by just reading the stories shared in the comments over the last four years of James Garfield Christmas Miracles.  Thank you.

84 thoughts on “Well, that’s…flattering?

Read comments below or add one.

  1. I can see how they can’t help setting it on fire. I can’t seem to get through a candlelight service at church without lighting at least two old ladies on fire. Stupid hairspray…

  2. @ocularnervosa: Probably not, Thor eats his goats everyday and they keep returning to life for him to eat again.

  3. I first read “Giant animals and anal arson,” which made no sense. Then I read it again and I’m still confused. Oh well. Merry, happy, fa-la-la.

    PS You and James Garfield do great work

  4. Thank you for introducing me to Tim Minchin. His music was on repeat last month and helped me get through a particularly rough patch.

  5. I have lived in Gävle, and let me tell you that we get very disappointed when the goat doesn’t burn! It’s tradition, it should be upheld! But noooo, the city officials have taken to installing cameras and if someone tries to climb the fence, they get arrested!

    But eehr.. yeah. We are completely normal here in Sweden, I promise! 😉

    (I have a crossbow. If I was there we could send a burning arrow. And even if we got arrested it would be worth it. “Do you have any felony convictions?” “Just one. I set a giant goat on fire in Sweden. But it’s traditional, so…” ~ Jenny)

  6. Merry Christmas! Best wishes for a new year of health and happiness!
    PS Straw and hay are very different.

  7. Some day I hope to read that Jenny has booked a ticket to Sweden and Hanna is putting clean sheets in the guest room. #HaveCrossBowWillTravel

  8. The giant goat thing has also spread to Iceland in recent years courtesy of IKEA, so it’s definitely moving your way. And the charming tradition of burning it has followed – which is pretty impressive considering the Icelandic climate at this time of year.

  9. That year when the police went out in the newspapers, saying that they’re “looking for a santa claus and a gingerbread man that shot the christmas goat with an bow and flaming arrow and burned it down”, that year it was totally worth it. Totally.

  10. I get it. I really want to set some ppl on fire right now. If there was a giant ass made of straw outside i would not be able to resist pointing my fury at it. It sounds like that tradition saves lives

  11. There’s a town here in Ireland where the locals go up to the mountains and take a goat, crown it “King of the Goats” and display it in the town for the day. It’s a huge festival. They don’t burn the goat, thankfully. He’s also set free again, to return and brag of his new royal title to his goat friends.


  12. Merry Christmas, Jenny. If I had a giant goat, I would set fire to it in your honour (can we add this tradition to the Blogessian observances?)

  13. It’s like town officials are taunting the populace with this giant straw goat. I mean, why erect a giant straw goat unless it’s to set it on fire?

  14. i am a Christian, was not at all offended, found the song beautiful and ‘sentimental’, and think you are the most hysterical women of our time. Like flying to Italy in the middle of the night on a dark plane, reading ‘Let’s Pretend”, laughing out load so many times a lady kicked my seat several times and peeing on myself a little, hysterical. I can’t tell you how many passages I tried to read out loud to my 17 year old son but couldn’t because of the choking laughter and tears streaming down my face. Totally cool!
    Sweet song. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Another tradition of the Yule Goat, according to Wikipedia:

    Objects made out of straw or roughly-hewn wood could also be called the Yule goat, and in older Scandinavian society a popular Christmas prank was to place this Yule goat in a neighbour’s house without them noticing; the family successfully pranked had to get rid of it in the same way.

    A Merry Yule to you all and a Joyful Feast of Christ’s Circumcision.



    And Tim Minchin is appropriate for every season.

  16. So, if I lived in Sweden, would I need to light one goat for each night of Chanukah? I don’t even know where to get goats, much less a menorah big enough to hold nine goats!

  17. It’s like the Burning Goat of Sweden! …That was cooler in my head.
    It’s like the authorities want to see it burn. Why else would they put a web cam on it?
    And I second the thanks for introducing us to Tim Minchin.

  18. I was happy you put up another blog. I needed a little bit of weird funny-ness today. My Christmas kinda sucked after half a tree fell on my brand new van.

  19. One of my favourite Christmas songs as well. I love Tim Minchin.

    This year it makes me a bit sad …. I’m entering a time of solitude, which I think will be good in the long run, but in the short it’s tough. Still, one never knows what life holds, and if this year is meant to be solitary, perhaps a year or two from now will not be. It seems to be cyclical if we let it be so.

    Thank you for … everything.

  20. Am I the only one crying my eyes out after listening to the song? I’m certain someone else in this tribe has been blessed with a mascara-stained face and a husband sweetly asking if they forgot to take their meds today.

    (It makes me cry too. But in a good way. Tim Minchin is like that. ~ Jenny)

  21. thank you for helping make this an amazing Christmas. For the first time ever my son was excited for presents and understood what they were. You and this tribe made sure he had something to open today. Thank you for drawing so many awesome, odd people together to make this amazing community.

  22. Hi Jenny, can I ask you a weird question? I’m concerned I might have depression, but I don’t want to be dramatic. I’m really scared that I’ll get people upset over nothing or just cause more issues by seeking help or talking to someone. Do you have any suggestions? I’m also a young adult living with my parents, so I’m scared to talk to them or that they’ll blame it on my age. I just want things to be more okay.

    (Telling your parents exactly what you just wrote is a great start. It might be hormones or it might be depression or something else, but if it’s affecting your quality of life you should get it checked out. There are some online tests you can take to help identify if you currently have indicators for depression and that might help. You can go to your regular doctor to get advice or a referral, or if you’re in college you can see the college therapist for free. They won’t usually prescribe anything but they can tell you if it’s something you need to seek treatment for or if it’s something that may just pass. Sometimes if it’s mild, temporary depression they can give you non medical help and tools, like light therapy or exercise or other things that naturally increase endorphins. You’re going to be okay. You’re taking the steps you need to take to ensure that you’re healthy and that’s something your parents should be proud of. ~ Jenny)

  23. Speaking of Nordic Christmas traditions.
    In Iceland, they have, the Jólaköttturinn a Giant black cat that luirks around on Christmas in the snow eating impoverished children and their families who did not get new clothes for Christmas.

    Björk even sang a song about it:

  24. Just a heads-up that there’s a lost package of Hanes undies still making its way home to a Christmas wishes recipient…it keeps getting mis-delivered. So if you’re missing undies, they should show up soon. And have a great story to tell.

  25. I expect nothing less than awesome and you did not disappoint; you never do. Hugs from a 1/4 Swedish Tim Minchin fan.

  26. so, the song made me cry. Thank you for introducing me to my new favorite holiday song. (How have I not known about this?) but what made me cry even more were the comments. I am typing this through tears and autocorrect, so it will be a miracle If it makes sense. I love the community here. There is so much wit and wisdom and kindness…all tempered with snark and warped minds, I love coming here, so thank you to everyone. Can we meet for coffee?

  27. Love the Tim Minchin song! Thank you ever so for sharing it! I, in turn, will share it with my family and bask in the serenity of having a family that will appreciate it as much as we don’t! Yay 😊
    Magistra13 at yahoo dot com

  28. Tim Minchin, aka god of brilliantly funny musical comedy, has become adored by one and all in our household. Yesterday (Christmas Day) we all watched his performance of “Thank You, God” filmed at St. Albert’s Hall in London. It was our pre-dinner hilarity. I can’t recommend it highly enough (unless you find the idea of disparaging an all-knowing, selectively miracle performing God on the birthday of his revered son to be sacrilegious. In that case, I don’t recommend it at all).

  29. Thank you so much for the new (to me) Christmas song. He explains so nicely just how I feel about All The Christmas Things. I will look for more of his music, he is lovely.

  30. You know who Tim Minchin is! I saw him in a small NYC theater several years ago. He’s witty, sarcastic, smart. He plays piano, sings, wrote the music for Matilda the Broadway show. He’s great.

  31. That’s my favorite Christmas song, too! I was just thinking, “Should I go watch ‘White Wine in the Sun’ on YouTube, or should I see what the Bloggess is up to?” Little did I know, I can do both!! 🙂

  32. I want to go to Sweden sooo bad!! If I ever do I will take pics of this “alleged” goat and send them to you;) Along with all the death metal albums that I am going to buy there.

  33. I am fascinated by Jul the burning goat. I think maybe we should sponsor Jul to go to the Burning Man festival this year.

  34. I like how the first piece mentioned that the goat had been attacked by a gingerbread man in such an offhanded way,as if this were just an everyday kind of a thing.
    I think I would like to live in Sweden.

  35. Just an fyi, the goat itself is not named Jul, Jul literally means christmas 🙂 So “Jul goat” is Christmas goat 🙂

  36. Crap in a hand basket! That’s my favorite Christmas song, too, even though it always makes me cry like a baby. Especially now that most of my family is so far away. I even did a belly dance to it last year!

  37. I don’t know how I’ve missed Tim Minchin but I’ve spent the last 2 days listening to everything he has on YouTube. I made sure my sister saw it and she sobbed like a baby. We are the latest Tim fans!!!! And Jenny, I so want to buy your calendar but I don’t want to have to explain November to my 5 year old grand daughters. They’re fine readers, and my daughters will not be happy with me when those girls come home with the F-bomb and say they read it on Grammie’s wall 😉. Have a wonderful New Year. I think you must be part of our family, somehow!

  38. I consider Tim Minchin to be a genius. They banned this song from the ‘Jonathan Ross Christmas Show’ a couple of years ago here in good ol’ Blighty. It was a travesty, and I’m pretty sure helped increase his fan base here exponentially.

    Yay for irreverence.

    Hope you have a fantastic New Year Jenny 🙂

  39. Merry Christmas! I cannot look at Tim Minchin without missing Atticus Fetch and everything that ever was Californication… LOVE IT! I will pray for you anyway, since it’s Christmas & all… 🙂

  40. Atlas Obscura (disclaimer: I write for that site sometimes) has a special fondness for the goat, and has a “Goat Watch” on its Twitter feed to check in about “has it burned yet”. (Their main article on the goat is here: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/gavle-goat )

    But there is an even WEIRDER tradition in Catalonia which I wrote about years ago (offline) – the “Tio de Nadal”, which is a hollowed-out log with a smiley face painted on it; the kids feed it throughout December, and then Christmas morning the whole family takes turns beating it with sticks until it “poops” out candy.


    And that’s actually not the ONLY poop-related thing the Catalonians do – every one of their nativity scenes includes a figurine of someone taking a dump. Usually they’re hidden in the back (sometimes families make it a weird “Where’s Waldo” type of game for the kids), and usually it’s a shepherd, but they also make figurines of different cartoon characters or political figures dropping trou.


  41. My hairdresser, who grew up in Sweden, told me about a village there where everyone is very short. You can go and visit even if you’re normal height although apparently you’re constantly ducking your head, or hitting it. I supposed it’s fun to sit in little chair with your knees up to your chin. I don’t think she’d pull my leg but I can’t find it online. Maybe only Swedes can see it.

  42. Love that song, love the goat, love that you have a crossbow. Trifecta of happy thoughts.

  43. OH EM GEE. I’m a Taurus and I CAN’T EAT CHEESE. You’re a genius at being psychic. Can one be a genius at that. Plus my life has tragedy (not the BeeGee’s song) and part of that is that I can’t eat cheese. Well I can eat really, really old cheese that has low lactose but that’s besides the point.

  44. My friends and I read the story of the goat in Sweeden several years ago so we do a burnign of the goat usually in Feburary (like what else is there to do in February?) using a stray and wood goat. It’s really an excuse to have a party in someone’s back yard. 🙂

  45. I love Tim Minchin, and especially that song! I find myself singing the ‘socks, jocks, and chocolates is just fine by me…’ line over and over. 😀 xx

  46. I had a Swedish email pal (we bonded over ice hockey), and one year he sent me a small straw goat for Christmas. He said it was traditional to set it on fire for Christmas! I didn’t.

    P.S. LOVE Tim Minchin

  47. I read some posts and think, “I really like that Jenny.” Then I read others and think, “Oh, good golly, we are so alike!.” So, I guess that means I like myself and I thank you for that. I also like Tim Minchin. See – we are alike.

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