You know, all this time I had thought those straw goat Christmas ornaments were solely seasonal toys, because goats are fun and Scandinavian countries like goats and reindeer and what not. I never imagined they might mean more - but I was wrong.
I have discovered the Scandinavian tradition of the Yule Goat.
Over the centuries this animal has served as a pagan sacrifice, as a children's bogeyman (bogeygoat?), as Christmas-preparation cop, and and in the 19th century as giver of gifts. These days the Yule Goat pops up as huge straw sculptures in town centers, the best known of these being the Swedish Gavle Goat (named for the ad executive who came up with the idea in 1966). Pranksters have a bad tendency to burn these down, but perhaps they won't this year since there is a webcam trained upon Goat 2010. Go have a look at the town's other webpages on The Christmas Goat - they're fun.