Christmas Pranks on the Family Farms

An Iowan recalls traditional Christmas pranks during her childhood on the family farm

Content Tools

At Christmas time on family farms in our predominately Norwegian neighborhood, people celebrated for a whole week. Farmers went visiting after their chores were done or entertained in their own homes.

"Yule Buk" was Norwegian for Christmas Pranks. It was a lot of fun. People dressed in comical costumes and wore masks. They usually walked from one farm to the other to see if their identity could be guessed. The ridiculous clothing they wore and the fact that they disguised their voices made this difficult.

Householders guessed many times and often the "foolers" got away without being guessed correctly.

At most family farms they were invited in for wine or coffee and cookies-but only if someone guessed who they were.

One evening, the neighborhood men gathered at one house to play cards in honor of the first born. The wives cleverly decided to be Yule Buks. The men were thoroughly surprised, and most of the women escaped without being identified.

Somehow, this clever little game has fallen by the wayside. It was a lot of fun, but the younger generation wanted to get in their cars and do something new and different.

Madonna L. Storla
Postville, Iowa

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.