Chris wrote the other day about the Yule Goat tradition in the small Swedish town of Gävle. Well, I contacted the small Swedes I know and asked what the background was on this Christmas Goat thing. My blogger friend Björn dutifully responded:
Well, its a traditional thing to make goats out of straw. I believe that the goat had the same role as Santa Claus back in the day.
The city of Gävle decided to place itself on the map some 40 or so years ago by building the biggest goat ever. Of course, more straw means more entertainment to arsonists, and i think most goats have eventually been burned to a crisp. The amount of commitment the locals put into burning down this now heavily guarded – fenced up – goat is nothing short of stunning. There has been archery with flaming arrows, trucks breaking down the fence, and now a hacker attack to take out the surveilence cameras. Of course, the more guarded it is, the more people will want to burn it down. Deep down, all Swedes are rooting for the arsonists, and no one has ever been caught.
But it must be burnt down before christmas (24th), or there will be much disappointment. There is something strange to our national character.
But yeah, it has placed Gävle on the map alright.