While we have been busy enjoying our Christmas feasts and Boxing Day cricket matches, over in the Swedish city of Gavle a fierce battle has been raging on.
The Gavle Goat (Gavlebocken) is a tradition in Sweden, as locals erect a 13 metre tall and seven metre long Yule Goat made out of straw. The Yule Goat is a Christmas symbol that originates from the ancient Pagan festivals that current day Christmas is still linked to.
The Gavle Goat is recognised as the world’s biggest straw goat and was used as a tourist attraction for the small town during the Christmas season. However a new tradition surrounding the big guy soon sprung up.
While I personally would love to see a big goat in my town at Christmas it seems that some residents would rather see it burn.
In 1966 the seasonal symbol was burnt down by vandals and ever since people have been trying to burn it down. The Goat has only managed to make it through the season 15 times out of the 51 years it has been built.
Sometimes the big guy was burnt down or destroyed more than once in a season.
Over the years it has been burnt down by US tourists, hit by a car, had the security system hacked and been attacked by drunken teenagers. The best one by far is in 2005 when the goat was destroyed by vandals dressed like Santa and some gingerbread men, who lit the straw up with flaming arrows like a viking pyre.
In order to keep the festive farm animal standing each season many security measures have been taken. The Garvle Goat has been covered in flame retardant and even frozen with water. Fences, security guards and live webcams have been placed around the perimeter to try and keep it from being burned down.
These are the webcams that were hacked in 2009, allowing the vandals to get in and burn the goat down without detection.
This year there has already been an attempt to burn down the smaller replica of the goat – made by the National Science Club of the School of Vasa. Thankfully the mini me survived with only a few burns.
There has yet to be an attempt on the main goat this year, but the Goat will be standing until the new year. Until then we hope that this heckin’ big farm animal stands strong, and that those looking to burn something book a trip to burning man instead.