The straw figure is one of Sweden’s oldest traditions. One of the country’s more recent traditions is burning down the giant goat which is erected in Gävle town centre each year.
According to reports from the town, it was all over in just a couple of minutes. Just after 9pm on Saturday emergency services were informed that the goat had begun to burn in the city’s main square, Slottstorget.
Video feeds on Gävle council’s web site showed how fast the fire consumed the straw and ribbons, and by the time the fire brigade arrived at the scene it was too late.
Gävle’s goat has become famous for being attacked every year. Indeed, since the first giant goat was erected in the town in 1966, only seven have survived Christmas. During that time only one person has been caught and found guilty of arson: an American tourist who claimed in court that he thought he was taking part in a completely legal goat-burning tradition.
According to witnesses there were two arsonists this year. One of them was wearing a Santa mask and the other was dressed as a gingerbread man.
Police said that they either fired a flaming arrow or threw a flare at the goat before disappearing up a nearby alley.