Sweden’s giant Gavle goat survives Christmas

Sweden's giant Gavle goat survives Christmas

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It is a good year for the giant goat in snow-covered Gavle

There is extra Christmas cheer in the Swedish town of Gavle this year because its annual giant straw goat has survived for more than three weeks.

Last year’s goat fell victim to an arsonist on 27 November, less than 24 hours after it had been erected.

Standing 13 metres (43ft) tall, it is the world’s biggest straw goat.

Most of its incarnations have been burnt or vandalised since 1966, when the tradition began.

However this year, the goat is still sending merry tweets.

Maria Wallberg, who handles the goat’s public relations, said: “It’s great that he has been left standing for so long.”

She said new higher and double fences had kept intruders away.

This year a non-profit security firm, X-Cons Gavleborg, also deployed guards to protect the goat, she told the BBC.

News site The Local has compiled a list of the “weirdest attacks” on the yule goat, including an attempted kidnapping via helicopter and the time a person dressed as a gingerbread man shot it with flaming arrows.

By tradition, the goat effigy goes up in Gavle, 158km (98 miles) north of Stockholm, on the first Sunday of Christian Advent.

This year it has been standing since 3 December, and the town hopes the 3.6-tonne effigy will survive until 2 January.

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Last year the Gavle Goat was destroyed by fire just hours after being inaugurated

Gavle’s official tourism website says the famous effigy was invented by Stig Gavlen, a man who proposed a giant version of the straw goat ornaments that Swedes put on show at Christmas. The intention was to boost business at shops and restaurants in the area.

Giant Goat facts:

  • It is made from a lorryload of straw from a nearby village, Mackmyra
  • Its straw coat is made from 56 five-metre straw mats
  • Its wooden skeleton is made from 1,200 metres of Swedish pine
  • Construction involves 1,000 hours of labour
  • Gavle sent the goat to Zhuhai, a twin town in China, in 2015 and it drew 420,000 admirers
  • It has 14,600 Twitter followers.

Ms Wallberg said the Gavle Goat “is very popular and has fans all over the world”.

“We are often asked if it’s better for Gavle that the goat burns down. We say it’s the opposite – he is an attraction, a reason to visit Gavle.

“When he stays safe our visitors can experience him at Castle Square in Gavle and that’s much better for the shops, restaurants and hotels.”

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