Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Thou damned and luxurious mountain goat, Offer'st me brass?" ~Henry V, William Shakespeare, 1599
Because of their close association with humans, many idiomatic expressions regarding goats exist, though to be likened to one is usually not particularly complimentary. The expression "to get one's goat" which reached its peak popularity in the 1920s and though still used, has been classified as one of the most absurd slang expressions in the English language! Its usage has been traced back to at least 1905 and had double meanings: to become annoyed or irritated, or to lose composure or have the fight taken out of one. The belief that the phrase stems from the practice of placing a goat in the stall of a racing horse to calm them is hotly disputed. Allegedly, if you "got someone's goat" by removing it from the stall, the horse would become agitated and perhaps not perform well in the upcoming race. Word detectives, however, claim there is no evidence for this theory. However, race horses and goats have been companioned for centuries for the calming effect on the horses, who are often extremely temperamental. In some cases a horse would become so attached that its goat would have to be brought along to the paddock every time the horse raced! As herd animals, horses appreciate having a friend in the stall, and the easily transportable and docile goats provide this companionship. 🐐🐐🐐
The Goat Fell Gallop
Goats are among the earliest animals domesticated by humans. Ancient societies herded wild goats primarily for easy access to milk and meat, as well as to their dung, which was used as fuel, and their bones, hair and sinew for clothing, building and tools.
Goats are reputed to be willing to eat almost anything, including tin cans and cardboard boxes! While goats will not actually eat inedible material, they are browsing animals, not grazers like cattle and sheep, andwill chew on and taste just about anything remotely resembling plant matter to decide whether it is good to eat.
Goats have been used by humans to clear unwanted vegetation for centuries. There has been a resurgence of this use in North America since 1990, when herds were used to clear dry brush from California hillsides to reduce potential wildfires. In the Pacific Northwest, they are also used to remove invasive species such as throned blackberry and poison oak.
Because of their early association with man, goats figure prominently in mythology and folklore, both positively and negatively.
According to Norse mythology, the god of thunder, Thor, has a chariot that is pulled by the goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. At night when he sets up camp, Thor eats the meat of the goats, but takes care that all bones remain whole. He wraps the remains up, and in the morning, the goats come back to life to pull the chariot.
Interestingly, the mineral bromine is named from the Greek word "brόmos", which means "stench of he-goats".
Goat Fell is the highest point on the Isle of Arran. At 874 metres (2,866 ft), it is one of four Corbetts on the island. The name is believed to have been derived from the Norse 'geita' for 'Goat Mountain.'
For a remarkable and richly illustrated description of the wide variety of goat folklore, click the famous tree goats of Morocco.