This Swedish Town Has an Unusual Christmas Tradition Involving a Straw Goat
This is your annual yule log turned up to 11.
Every year, the town of Gavle, Sweden, builds a 43-foot-tall straw goat as part of their annual Christmas tradition. But the giant goat, sadly, doesn’t last very long before it’s burned to the ground.
This obviously isn’t like your typical tree lighting or relaxing yule log.
The straw goat, or as it’s locally called, the Gavlebocken is marking its 51th anniversary this year. Burning it down wasn’t really part of the original tradition, but people kept trying to destroy it anyway.
According to NPR, the Gavlebocken has been (successfully?) burned down 35 times in the last 50 years. One time, in 2001, it was by an American tourist who was fined $10,000 and spent two weeks in jail because he thought that’s what was supposed to happen.
Last year, the goat burned down on November 27, according to The Local.
The goat is finished and inaugurated on the first day of the Advent, which is Sunday, December 3 this year. The inauguration is celebrated with an amazing fireworks show — which may be a little surprising since the town is concerned with the goat catching fire. Luckily, fireworks are not set off too close to the goat.
In general, the Gavlebocken doesn’t make it until December 25. Last year, townspeople debated remaking the goat so it lasts until Christmas day, but ultimately did not, according to NPR.