This year I’d like to introduce you to two interesting Swedish traditions.
The first is that of the Gävle goat. In the Swedish city of Gävle every year they build a big straw goat.
For some reason a tradition for burning down the goat has arisen with the result that a variety of anti-vandalism schemes have been tried ranging from guards to coating the straw with flame resistance material.
This year, however, the vandals were on track to outdo themselves.
Two mysterious men attempted to bribe a guard to leave his post watching over the giant goat in Gävle in eastern Sweden in an attempt to kidnap the iconic Christmas symbol using a helicopter.
Last year, the goat was torched in the early hours of December 23rd, while in 2008, it survived through Christmas, only to go up in flames on December 27th.
The full timeline of the goats and their fates can be found here (very entertaining read).
You can keep tabs on the goat yourself on its webcam here.
Next, we have ‘Julmust‘, or Christmas soda.
Basically it’s a Coca-cola clone that is served at Christmas time (it’s relabeled around Easter and called påskmust). It elicits a very strong reaction among Mrs. TwShiloh and is considered an essential element of the holidays. Fortunately, she’s part of a little clique of Swedes that can return to the motherland on a semi-regular bases and get the essentials if they can’t be purchased here.
In Sweden, julmust outsells Coca-Cola during the Christmas season; in fact, the consumption of Coca-Cola drops by as much as 50% over Christmas…
In what is becoming an unintended tradition here at TwShiloh, the Christmas season during times of war keeping reminding me of the Christmas Truce of WWI. While wars are terrible things, sometimes they can provide a striking contrast to moments of real humanity.
The spontaneous actions of men of both sides to who decided to just stop fighting is an event that does not receive the attention it is due. Of course, since it was an action by individuals to reject the demands of the state, one shouldn’t be surprised that our state run educational systems don’t talk about it much (Yeah, like they cover other areas of history so completely…eds).
So, in keeping with my annual tradition of mentioning the truce every holiday season I’ll be posting a five part series this week comprising a documentary cut and posted on YouTube by dickensxmas2010.
Happy Holidays everyone from the entire ‘Travels with Shiloh’ staff!
For some reason, this time of year gets me thinking about the First World War. More specifically, the Christmas Truce of 1914. It’s really an amazing story about the season and men who shared it after experiencing some of the worst horrors of war.
A movie was made of the experience called Joyeux Noel which was nice except for the awkward insertion of a romantic sub-plot in the story which cheapened the authentic portions of the story. Still, you’re unlikely to find much about the time period generally or this event specifically and it’s still pretty good.
So, check out the story, read the letters from some of the soldiers, maybe rent the movie and share it with your family this season. It’s not what we now think of as a traditional holiday story but seems to convey the sentiments of ‘peace on earth and goodwill towards mankind’ better than most of what you may see.
If you want to know more, this group seems to be doing some nice work in collecting remembrances of the event.