The ethnic Santas stood together on the shelf.

Scottish Santa in a kilt. French Santa avec béret. American Santa in red, white, and blue.

And the goat.

The white goat with panniers of colorful presents at his sides.

“So,” I say to the clerk, already knowing the answer, “What's with the goat?”

She shrugs.

“Oh, that's the Swedish Santa Claus,” she says.

Well, one could put it that way.

The Yule-Buck has brought gifts to Scandinavian children for nobody knows how long. The Goat that Gives Gifts.

Any witch could tell you Who That is.

And being Who He is, of course, He's Master of Beasts, the God of Animals.

Who visits your house on Midwinter's Eve. Which, as I'm sure you already know, is the night on which, just at midnight—by which, of course, we mean solar midnight, not clock midnight—your domestic animals can speak.

And He'll certainly ask them how they've been treated through the course of the past year.

So remember that next time the dog messes on the floor.

May the Yule Buck be good to you this year.

And Santa?


He's the cowanish Yule-Buck.