Goat - Chèvre - Li Cabro
The goat, a familiar and beloved creature in the hilly countryside, is always included among the animals in the creche. With a bell around its neck, it follows its mistress along the little, winding, stony paths of Provence.
The Goat brings to mind the well-remembered Provencal pagan legend of the Golden Goat. In The Little Saints of Christmas, Daniel J. Foley provides a wonderful explanation of the legend:
The Golden Goat "is a huge animal with golden fleece, who browses at night on the mountain moss and is to be seen everywhere in Provence, wandering in the moonlight among the abandoned places. This mythical creature is the protector of the ancient monuments and ruins, as well as of the treasure that is buried beneath them. Where his hoofs leave marks there are glints of gold upon the pebbles... You can hear his bleat and the tinkle of his bell, but woe unto those who follow him. To capture him means sure death, for it is believed that the treasure he guards, when found, will cause nothing but misery. An old belief long cherished in Provence had it that on Christmas Eve the goat lost his power for a brief time. This was the only time of the year when the conquest of treasure was possible, but to be successful one had to know its location and find time to dig and take it. If the adventurer were found still digging when the final words of the midnight Mass were pronounced, he would be lost forever. Furthermore, whatever success might be had in calming the golden goat, he would turn on his master with all his fury after the hour was over.
The story of the Golden Goat is a symbol of man's quest for the ultimate in satisfaction and achievement."
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