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Sweden's Christmas goat survives holidays

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Sweden's Christmas goat survives holidays
Standing tall...The Gävle goat pictured during the Christmas period. Photo: Marko Säävälä/TT
17:49 CET+01:00
The infamous Christmas goat in Gävle has beaten off the arsonists and made it through the holiday season for the first time in years, with its spokesperson telling The Local that the goat is now set for China.

After being erected on November 30th the 13-metre straw goat has been the subject of intense interest from both the media as well as budding firestarters. 

Typically the goat (Gävlebocken) goes up in flames before Swedes open a jar of herring on Christmas eve. The class of 2013 was torched on December 21st while the previous year the goat was burnt to a crisp on December 12th.

For 2014 however the goat committee in Gävle decided to tackle the problem head on with a number of new measures including moving the local taxi rank to surround the goat and beefing up security. They also maintained the 24 hour use of a webcam

"Moving the taxis to be close to the goat has made a huge difference as there is a lot more people moving around it. That seems to have kept the arsonists at bay," Johan Adolfsson, head of communications with Gävle municipality and spokesperson for the goat told The Local on Sunday.

Despite the added security there has been a number of attempted attacks on the goat over the past month according to Adolfsson. The latest occurring over the weekend when two Australians doused the goat in some liquid before being picked up by police.

"There have been four possible attempts with people climbing the fence and on each occasion the people have had lighters in their pockets. We haven't drawn up a hitlist though!" laughed Adolfsson.

Unlike in previous years the goat hasn't been sprayed with flame retardant material so its survival is even more remarkable.

"The 2014 goat is pure straw. When we sprayed it in the past the goat got discoloured from yellow to a fox coloured brown which didn't look great," said Adolfsson.

Assuming the goat doesn't go up in flames overnight it will be dismantled on December 29th. All of the straw and decorations will be removed leaving just the goat's shell which is set to be shipped abroad over the coming days.

Media interest in the goat has peaked this year with a number of organizations reporting about its annual battle for survival. News crews from around the world travelled to Gävle for its unveiling while it was recently the subject of a special report by America's Daily Beast website.

As for the goat's next adventure, she will be hoofing it all the way to China where the it will remain until next September.

"We see the Gävle goat as our strongest brand and we are trying to evolve the brand year-on-year. Some people think it's us burning it every year to get PR but that isn't the case at all.

"The goat is going to go Zhuhai in China as we are establishing a business relationship with the city. We hope that this will lead to some new opportunities going forward," said Adolfsson.

As with all things involving the goat its journey to China will be tracked via social media with a GPS system monitoring its every move to Zhuhai. The Gävlebocken Twitter feed has over 8,000 followers.

"We're not sure what we are going to do about Twitter in China as there are some restrictions there but we'll keep fans up to date via other means.

"The goat will then come back to Sweden next September or so and we'll prepare for the Christmas period then. Let's hope it makes it through 2015 too," concluded Adolfsson.
 

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