Julebukking, also known as Christmas fooling

Julebukkers go Julebukking at the home of Gary Zylstra.  Julebukking is also known as Christmas fooling

The town of Hendricks has carried on many Norwegian traditions since the first settlers arrived in the 1870s. However, one such tradition can be considered quite unique to an the unaccustomed, perhaps even a little crazy. Julebukking touches deep into the very heart and soul of Hendricks’ Scandinavian roots.

Julebukking is a traditional activity where groups don masks and costumes between Christmas and New Years Day. Once gathered, the costumed pranksters go door to door attempting to fool their friends and neighbors. The person receiving julebukkers must guess the identity of those behind the masks, makeup, hats, or costume. The Julebukkers continue their pranks by disguising their voices, laughs and any other distinguishing features. Once the identity of the Julebukkers have been revealed, the homeowner often offer their guests coffee, cookies and holiday treats. Once their snacks are consumed, the Julebukkers continue on to the next house.

Julbukk (or “Christmas buck” in English) was originally practiced when Norwegian pagans worshipped Thor and his goat. In some celebrations, people would carry a goat head, disguise their bodies, and go door to door. This goat would eventually die, and return to life as a devilish creature, appearing at festivities. The church later altered the practice and meaning, which leaves us with our treasured Julebukking.

So, if you happen to be passing through Hendricks some chilly winter night and see a group of masked Norwegians passing, don’t be alarmed! It’s probably just a group of Julebukkers having some holiday fun. If you’re lucky, you may be welcomed into the group to do some Julebukking of your own!