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Joulupukki is a Finnish Christmas figure. The name Joulupukki literally means Christmas goat or Yule Goat. The Finnish word "pukki" comes from the Teutonic root "bock" (equivalent of the English "buck", "Puck", or "billy-goat") and is an old Scandinavian tradition. Over time, the figure became more or less merged with Santa Claus.
There is a long Finnish tradition of persons dressing in goat costume to solicit or perform for leftover food after Christmas. Historically, such a person was an older man, and the tradition refers to him as a nuuttipukki. The term now also describes the practice, reportedly continuing in some parts of Finland.
Today Joulupukki looks and behaves mostly like his American version, but there are differences. Joulupukki's house and workshop are situated in the mountains of Korvatunturi, whereas the American counterpart resides at the North Pole. Another difference is that instead of sneaking in through the chimney during the late night hours, Joulupukki knocks on the front door during the Christmas Eve celebrations. When he comes in, his first words are traditionally "Onko täällä kilttejä lapsia?" (Are there (any) well-behaved children here?)
He usually wears warm red clothes, uses a walking stick, and travels in a sleigh pulled by a number of reindeer. Unlike the American version, the reindeer do not fly. In Lapland, pulkka rather than a sleigh can be encountered. The popular song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in its Finnish translation, Petteri Punakuono, has led to Rudolph's general acceptance in the mythology as Joulupukki's lead reindeer. Joulupukki has a wife, Joulumuori ("Old Lady Christmas"), but tradition doesn't have much to say about her.
Joulupukki's assistants are called tonttu, or more precisely joulutonttu (from Swedish tomte); they are not elves, but essentially human, often dwarflike in character. They usually wear similar attire to Joulupukki's, and males also have a white beard; but joulutonttu are often smaller in size and may be of any age and either gender. While only a rather large, aged person can convincingly dress as Joulupukki, conveniently everyone can dress as a joulutonttu, with less special attire required.
The Joulupukki or "Yule Buck" is originally a pagan tradition. He is connected to the ase Wōden of the norse mythology and said to wear red leather pants and a fur trimmed red leather coat. Under the Winter Solstice - going by the names of Jólnir (yule figure) and Langbarðr (long-beard) - Wōden led the Wild Hunt accompagnied by Thor driving his a flying wagon drawn by goat bucks.
In later development Joulupukki's helpers, the tonttu (Nisser/Tomter) rides a goat. Or the Joulupukki is a man turned into a goat man on Christmas Eve, as it is seen in Elsa Beskow's Peter and Lotta's Christmas.
- The location of Joulupukki's workshop comes from a children's radio show called Markus-sedän lastentunti (Children's hour with Uncle Markus) hosted by Markus Rautio and broadcast by the Finnish Broadcasting Company between years 1927–1956.
- Finland's Joulupukki received over 700,000 letters from children all over the world in 2006, according to a news report by the Finnish Broadcasting Company, YLE.
- Joulupukki is a prominent character in Rare Exports, a movie based on the award winning shorts by Jalmari Helander.
Joulupukki's dark side 
Pagans used to have festivities to honor the return of the sun and some believe Joulupukki is the earliest form of present day Santa. The Yule Goat was thought by some to be an ugly creature and frightened children while others believe it was an invisible creature that helped prepare for Yule.
Most theorists believe when Christianity began incorporating Pagan ways into their festivals in order to justify the action, they merged the Pagan figure with an already existing Catholic legend known as Saint Nicholas to create Santa Claus.
Popular radio programs from the year 1927 onwards probably had great influence in reformatting the concept with the Santa-like costume, reindeer and Korvatunturi as its dwelling place. Because there really are reindeer in Finland, and Finns live up North, the popular American cult took root in Finland very quickly.
See also 
- Section on Finland in Christmas worldwide
- Rare Exports (movie)
- Santa Claus Village
- Yule Goat