Behind Door #9: Burn, Billy, Burn

10 December 2006 at 0:53 3 comments

One of my favorite Swedish Christmas traditions was picked up by the AP this year. Every year the city of Gävle has put up an enormous straw goat on the town square. (You can find smaller versions decorating Swedish homes.)

The actual display of the goat—billed as the world’s biggest—is not the interesting part, though. What makes it my favorite tradition is that in twenty-two of the forty years they’ve put up a Christmas goat, someone’s managed to destroy it.

Most years someone merely burns the goat, but it’s also been run over by a car or been smashed to bits. Some of the vandals have had a particular flair for the dramatic. For instance, according to the article:

The 2005 vandals — who witnesses said were dressed up as Santa Claus and the Gingerbread Man — remain at large. The pair fired flaming arrows at the goat, reducing it to its steel skeleton.

The  city’s Christmas Web site gives a complete, year-by-year accounting of the goat’s fate.

This year city officals claim that the goat has burned for the last time. They’ve impregnated the straw with some sort of space-age flame retardant and put up two twenty-four hour Web cams (1, 2) so the eyes of the world can keep watch.

I can’t help feeling they’ve missed the point. The world’s largest goat rates a giant “meh.” The world’s largest goat that happens to get destroyed in some amusing ways, well, that’s something I’ll even blog about. I mean, aren’t goats meant to be sacrificed?

So, I’ll go on checking the Web cams, but I’ll be waiting to see the goat in flames.


Entry filed under: Folklore, Humor, Julkalendar, Sweden.

Behind Door #8: The War on Krampus Behind Door #10: Smooth Sailing

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