The Christmas Goat of Gävle, Sweden

About two hours north of Stockholm a goat stands in the town of Gävle.  It’s a large goat, a Christmas goat, a straw goat.  This goat is a tourist attraction, it is known, simply, as Gävlebocken.  The Gävle Goat.

A Swedish Christmas tradition accounts for a Christmas goat that also delivered presents.  As a small child, the Christmas goat scared me.  A lot.  It was loud, gruff, and just kind of ugly.  Luckily, the Gävle Goat is less scary and more impressive.

Each year, Gävlebocken is built, and each year, people try to burn it down.  Turns out that a goat made of straw is an inviting target.  This year though, there was a new twist as an attempt was made to steal the goat with a helicopter.  Someone thought it would be a good idea to steal a straw goat that weighs 3.6 tonnes, is 13 meters high and seven meters long.

The chess game between the potential vandals and the protectors of the goat has become a sort of holiday tradition.  Since the first goat was burned down in 1966, 24 subsequent goats have been burned.  So far, the 2010 goat still stands, and would make a perfect day trip from Stockholm for anyone doing some last minute European travel planning.

This goat, as you may imagine when people are trying to burn you and steal you with helicopters, has a story to tell.  That’s why Gävlebocken has a blog, a Twitter account, and even submits itself to a webcamera.  Learn more about the Gävle Goat here.

Picture by plastAnka.  More pictures by plastAnka can be found here.

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About Marcus Cederstrom

I was born in Sweden and moved to the US just before my 6th birthday. I grew up in the United States eventually graduating from the University of Oregon. After graduation and about 17 years in the US I made the decision to move back to Sweden. I have been living in Stockholm since the summer of 2007. Since graduation I have traveled throughout eastern Australia as well as in Sweden and Europe.