Christmas traditions vary greatly around the world. In the town of Gävle, Sweden, a Yule Goat has been constructed out of wood and straw in the Slottstorget, or Castle Square, since 1966. However, the construction of the goat is not the only tradition local to the region. In the past 56 years, the goat has burned down 38 times. Despite this appalling track record, the 2022 goat surprisingly made it to the New Year 2023– it has now been deemed to have survived the season!
The Yule Goat is a Scandinavian tradition with pagan roots. Today, most Yule Goats are ornament-sized and hang on trees. The Gävle Goat, built by locals and decorated each year, can tower as high as 40 feet above the ground. Its size and prominence has made it a target over the years. In 1973, a man stole the enormous statute and put it in his yard. He was later arrested. In 1976, a crashing Volvo took out the goat. In 2010, a plot was afoot to capture the goat and carry it away by helicopter. Thankfully it was foiled.
The greatest threat to the Galve Goat is arson. Unlike Bonfire Night in the UK, the fire is a crime rather than officially sanctioned. The man who burned down the goat in 2021 received six months in prison. Most of the goat arsonists, however, have not been apprehended over the years. Successive security measures have been added, including a live webcam in 1996, flame retardant soaking the straw in 2013, ice coating the straw in 2011, and guards and fencing.
These measures have at last worked. On Twitter, the Gävle Goat updated everyone on its survival on Christmas: “I made it. Merry Christmas.” Then, on New Year’s Day, the account happily welcomed 2023 with a simple “Happy new year.” This was followed by a cheeky, “New year, same me. Why mess with perfection?”
For more from the Gälve Goat, you can follow the festive tradition on Twitter.
Sweden's Yule Goat, the Gavle Goat, has survived through Christmas without being burned down, a rare feat.
I made it. Merry Christmas. pic.twitter.com/NI85iDhDNw
— Gävlebocken (@Gavlebocken) December 25, 2022
Even more rare, it actually survived the entire season and made it to New Year’s Day.
Happy new year 🎆 pic.twitter.com/0tiQN2rVq4
— Gävlebocken (@Gavlebocken) December 31, 2022
New year, same me. Why mess with perfection? 🐐 pic.twitter.com/5MTz9P0u5g
— Gävlebocken (@Gavlebocken) January 1, 2023