Will Sweden’s Gävle Goat Make it Until Christmas?
The answer, if history is any indicator at all, is a big, fiery no. Almost every year that the Gävle Goat is constructed for the Christmas celebration in Gävle, Sweden--someone burns it to the ground.
Last year I wrote about this rather bizarre "arson meets the holidays" thing that the Swedes have going each year after I discovered that in 1966 the Swedes started developing a strange, intriguing holiday tradition in Slottstorget in central Gävle. They construct and erect a giant straw goat, and then...well, someone burns it to the ground.
Some background from Mental Floss:
The first Gävle Goat was put up on December 1, 1966. Financed by a local entrepreneur, the magnificent beast stood 23 feet in length and over four stories tall. But this colossus of holiday cheer went up in smoke that New Year’s Eve at the hands of a nearby pyromaniac. Luckily, the goat was insured and the perpetrator charged with vandalism. Since then, a new model is built from hay (almost) every year in a tradition that ranks among the country’s most famous. Unfortunately—as the good people of Gävle know all too well—no goat is hooligan-proof. Last year’s specimen, for example, lasted only until December 12th before being burned to a crisp. But petty arson is hardly the worst fate that can befall a Gävle goat. Other grisly demises include getting kicked to pieces and being hit by a car. To date, a grand total of 36 have been destroyed. Things got even weirder in 2010, when a pair of schemers planned to kidnap the goat and transport it to Stockholm via helicopter only to have the guard on duty reject their bribe of 50,000 kronor ($7350 USD).
In 2001, it was torched by an American tourist who was fined $10,000 and spent two weeks in jail because he thought that’s what was supposed to happen. Last year, the goat burned to the ground on November 27th.
Thus far, the 43 foot goat has survived, but officials are taking no chances. They've installed a high-tech monitoring system that incorporates cameras, motion detectors, and even drones to keep an eye on the goat's safety.
Here's what's happened in previous years: