Gävle’s ill-fated Christmas goat survives as smaller sibling burns

A small straw yule goat was set on fire in the city of Gävle in the early hours of Friday, but its larger and more famous sibling remains untouched – bucking a controversial trend of burning it down.

Gävle's ill-fated Christmas goat survives as smaller sibling burns
The 2019 incarnation of the giant goat. Photo: Mats Åstrand/TT

The small goat – made in traditional Swedish style – was still standing on Friday morning, but slightly damaged from the flames after the attempt on its life at around 1.20am.

Regional newspaper Gefle Dagblad reported that an inebriated man was in police custody.

“He is suspected of the goat fire and will be interrogated after he sobers up,” police control room officer Thomas Gustafsson told the newspaper early in the morning.

The smaller unofficial goat is built outside the Vasa School in Gävle and placed away from the main attraction – the 13-metre straw goat on the Slottstorget square – under less thorough surveillance.

The main goat, protected by security guards, surveillance cameras and double fences, mourned its little brother via its slightly satirical Twitter account: “They make take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom.”

But in fact the giant straw beast just made it through its third consecutive Christmas intact. If it survives the holiday period until it is dismantled in the new year it will be the first time it survives three years in a row.

Since it was first put up in 1966, Gävle's giant straw goat has been burned down in more years than it has survived – an unsanctioned and indeed illegal tradition. Some of the more outrageous attempts to destroy it include a helicopter plot and a gingerbread man wielding a bow and arrow.

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