In 22 of the previous 40 years, the ancient Nordic symbol has not made it as far as Christmas Eve. Indeed, the burning of the Gävle goat has almost become part of the town’s tradition. Sometimes it happened so early in the year that there was time to build another beast from scratch.
But this Christmas Day, the town square is still home to the goat – despite a brutal attempt to destroy it ten days before. On that occasion his front right leg was doused in petrol and set on fire.
But the goat survived. It was, after all, made of sterner stuff this time around. A Stockholm-based fire protection company contributed the material to make the goat inflammable and declared that this year the goat would survive.
“We have made tests using petrol, oil, everything. It’s not possible to burn the goat,” a spokesman told The Local.
After the attack, a swift freshen-up ensured that the goat was as good as new.
“If the Gävle goat had not been impregnated with fire-retardant material, we would just have half a charred skeleton now. It’s usually burnt out within a few minutes,” said Anna Östman of the Gävle Goat Committee on the town’s web site.
The goat’s traditional little buddy met a more spectacular end. On December 20th the Vasa School’s three metre high goat was burned to the ground. The school had not been able to afford the inflammable material.
So is it a happy ending to the Gävle goat’s year? Perhaps not. In 1966, the first year it was burned down, the fateful day did not come until New Year’s Eve. There is still time to get the goat.