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Swedish Christmas Goat
John Bauer (1912)
Christmas Goat Ornaments

Julebukking is a Christmas tradition of Norwegian origin.[1] It closely resembles the modern-day tradition of Halloween trick-or-treating. [2] Between Christmas and New Year's Day, people wearing masks and costumes (Julebukkers) go door to door, where neighbors receiving them attempt to identify who is under the disguise. [3] Julebukkers will often disguise their voices and body language to further the masquerade. Offering people holiday treats and something to drink is customary. Once identities are known and the food is eaten, the Julebukkers continue to the next home.[4]

In one version of Julebukking, people go from door to door singing Christmas songs. After they have sung, they are usually awarded with candy. Another tradition requires that at least one person from the visited household join the band of Julebukkers and continue to the next household.[5]


The tradition of the Christmas buck (Julebukk) is believed to have originated in Norway, where pagans worshiped Thor, the god who traveled in his chariot drawn by two goats. [6] During the Yule holiday, they would disguise their appearance by dressing in a goatskin and go from house to house carrying a goat head. [7]

Christian missionaries modified the tradition and divorced its meaning from Paganism. The Yule Goat became one of the oldest Scandinavian and Northern European Yule and Christmas symbols and traditions. In Scandinavia, the figure of the julebukk is used as a common Christmas ornament. It is often made out of straw, has a red ribbon around its neck, and is found under the Christmas tree. [8]

German and Norwegian immigrants brought this tradition to America. [9] Though the practice of Julebukking may be dying out, it is still observed in areas in America with large populations of people of Scandinavian descent, such as the rural areas of Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and in Petersburg, Alaska and Ketchikan, Alaska.[10]


  1. ^ Julebukk (Dictionary of American Regional English) Retrieved 14 November 2012
  2. ^ Julebukking or Christmas Fooling Retrieved 5 August 2013
  3. ^ Vernon county museum notes: Julebukking a tradition in Norwegian communities Retrieved 5 August 2013
  4. ^ Julebukk (Juleleker) Retrieved 14 November 2013
  5. ^ Jul (Store norske leksikon) Retrieved 14 November 2012
  6. ^ Local julebukkers keep Norwegian tradition alive Retrieved 5 August 2013
  7. ^ Julebukk (About My Little Norway) Retrieved 14 November 2012
  8. ^ Christmas in Norway (Christmas Traditions Around the World) Retrieved 14 November 2012
  9. ^ Burning the Christmas Goat by Alaska Dispatch Retrieved 5 August 2013
  10. ^ Julebukking, also known as Christmas fooling (Hendricks, MN) Retrieved 14 November 2012

See also[edit]