Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Festival Goats and Sports Terms

I came across a ceremonial use of goats in Gavle, Sweden, that is said to date back to pagan times.  Today's goats there are made of straw and red ribbon, structures as high as 30 feet.  The pagan was Thor, who was believed to ride about the skies in a two-goat hauled chariot.  It was believed then that the last sheaf of grain bundled had magical powers.  Which were unspecified in the mention of this holiday for Sweden, Finland and Norway.

Arsonists make a game of trying to burn it down and today's massive goat is guarded by security cameras and right-there police.  In 2005 a man from Cleveland succeeded in at least setting fire to it, was seen, jailed and fined 100,000 Swedish kroner.  His lighter was confiscated as the judge didn't find him capable of carrying one.  He fled back to Cleveland and never paid the fine.

It's customary in Sweden for a small group of carolers to gather and go house to house singing their little hearts out.  Each home visited is expected to add a member to the group as they continue through the neighborhood.  It's a great chance to "hide the goat" (a small replica) in the house as a prank, another custom.

Christmas isn't the only goat fest - in Ireland, in the village of Killorglin, in the Ring of Kerry area, in August there's a three day (drunk) festival  celebrating the King of Puck ("puc" is Irish for billy goat.)
An innocent wild ram is brought in from the land, groomed, fed lavishly, fitted out with an elaborate crown. He even has a Queen of Puck; usually a young school girl.  At the end of three days, the goat is taken back to roam his former fields and the little girl gets ready for school in September.  We've seen this town during a tour of southwest Ireland.   There was a pub on every corner of the town square.  We were sorry to have been there in May and not August when the fun kicks off.

Not all countries and religions are as kind to their goats.  Muslims during Eid, said to be their holiest time period, slaughter a goat and family and friends gather to celebrate, apparently much as we do Thanksgiving or Christmas.  In 2017 there was a goat shortage in Palestine who had to come up with enough goats to feed 15 million people,  all of whom were trying to get/find one.    

In 2015 it was the year of the goat - or ram - in the Asian calendar.  Goats get around!

Sports Lingo, used beginning in the 1900s when if the team called you a goat, that meant that you were the dummy that moved wrong and cost the team a victory.

But then it devolved (with the help of rapper LL Cool J) to mean Greatest Of All Time.  Yes, well...

If you want to show a goat that you're not mean like those people in other countries,  contact goat farms and offer them your used Christmas tree to feed the buggers - goats will eat anything - only if the tree  has not been sprayed.

And mark your 2020 calendars for August and a trip to Ireland.  Sounds more like fun than freezing your chitlins off in December in Gavle, Sweden.  And - oh, if you go leave all incendiary materials at home.

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