The Goat Survives…
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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.
The city of Gavle dismantled the 43-foot-high Christmas monument Tuesday, marking a rare victory against vandals who have made it a sport to destroy the goat in imaginative ways before Christmas every year.
The Gävle Goat has been the subject of repeated arson attacks; despite security measures and a nearby fire station, the goat has been burned to the ground most years since its first appearance in 1966. As of December 2022[update], 38 out of 57 goats have been destroyed or damaged in some way. Burning or destroying the goat in some way is illegal, and the Svea Court of Appeal has stated that the offence should normally carry a 3-month prison sentence.
The cost for the 1966 goat was 10,000 Swedish kronor (SEK) (equivalent to SEK 84,355 in 2009). The price tag for constructing the goat in 2005 was around SEK 100,000. The city pays one-third of the cost while the Southern Merchants pay the remaining sum. Since 2003 the construction of the goat has been undertaken by a group of unemployed people known as ALU workers.
The display has become notable for being a recurring target for vandalism by arson, and has been destroyed many times since the first goat was erected in 1966. Because the fire station is close to the location of the goat, most of the time the fire can be extinguished before the wooden skeleton is severely damaged. If the goat is burned down before 13 December, the feast day of Saint Lucia, the goat is rebuilt. The skeleton is then treated and repaired, and the goat reconstructed over it, using straw which the Goat Committee has pre-ordered. As of 2005,[needs update] four people have been caught or convicted for vandalizing the goat. In 2001, the goat was burned down by a 51-year-old American visitor from Cleveland, Ohio, who spent 18 days in jail and was subsequently convicted and ordered to pay SEK 100,000 (US$11,655.01; equivalent to US$17,836 in 2021) in damages. The court confiscated his cigarette lighter with the argument that he clearly was not able to handle it. He stated in court that he was no "goat burner", and believed that he was taking part in a completely legal goat-burning tradition. After he was released from jail he returned to the US without paying his fine.
In 1996, the Southern Merchants introduced camera surveillance to monitor the goat 24 hours a day. On 27 November 2004 the Gävle Goat's homepage was hacked, and one of the two official webcams changed. One year, while security guards were posted around the goat in order to prevent further vandalism, the temperature dropped far below zero. As the guards ducked into a nearby restaurant to escape the cold, the vandals struck.
The Christmas season of 2006 marked the 40th anniversary of the Gävle Goat, and, on Sunday 3 December, the city held a large celebration in honor of the goat. The Goat Committee fireproofed the goat with "Fiber ProTector Fireproof", a fireproofing substance that is used in airplanes. In earlier years when the goat had been fireproofed, the dew had made the liquid drip off the goat. To prevent this from happening in 2006, "Fireproof ProTechtor Solvent Base" was applied to the goat. Despite their efforts, the goat has been damaged or destroyed a total of 38 times. On 27 November 2016 an arsonist equipped with petrol burned it down just hours after its inauguration. After a few flame-free years under 24-hour security, the goat was again burned on 17 December 2021.
Since 1986 there have been two Yule Goats built in Gävle: the Gävle Goat by the Southern Merchants and the Yule Goat built by the Natural Science Club of the School of Vasa. Until 1985 the Southern Merchants held the world record for the largest Yule Goat, but over the years the Natural Science Club's goat increased in size, and in 1985 their Yule Goat made it into the Guinness Book of Records with an official height of 12.5 metres (41 ft). The creator of the original 1966 goat, Stig Gavlén, thought that the Natural Science Club's goat had unfairly won the title of the largest Yule Goat because the goat was not as attractive as the Southern Merchants' goat and the neck was excessively long. The next year there was a Goat war: the Southern Merchants understood the publicity value, and erected a huge goat, the Natural Science Club erected a smaller one in protest. The Southern Merchants had intended that their huge goat would reclaim the world record, but the measurement of the goat showed it fell short. Over the following seven years there were no further attempts on the world record, but there was some hostility between the Natural Science Club and the Southern Merchants, evidenced by the fact that the Natural Science Club put up a sign near their goat wishing a Merry Christmas to everyone, except the Southern Merchants.
In 1993 the Southern Merchants again announced that they were going to attempt the world record. The goat stood 10.5 metres (34 ft) when completed. The Natural Science Club's Yule Goat that year measured 14.9 metres (49 ft), which earned them another place in the Guinness Book of Records.
But fewer than 1% of the goats slaughtered in South Africa are in the commercial sector, according to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and goat meat, though common, is mostly not formally traded.
The number of households that own cattle fell from more than 613,000 in 2011 to 588,000 in 2016, according to the government survey. During the same time, the number of households that own goats rose.
MANGANESES DE LA POLVOROSA, Spain -- Brushing aside accusations of animal cruelty, villagers in northern Spain went ahead on Saturday with their annual ritual of hurling a goat from a church belfry during a local fiesta.
Nearly a thousand people, some in traditional dress and many of them drunk on wine, gathered in the streets of Manganeses de la Polvorosa to witness this year's "Jump of the Goat" in honor of the village's patron saint.But Pepa, a black female goat, escaped the fate some of her predecessors have met.
Complaining that such rituals continue to give Spain a bad name internationally, the daily Diario 16 said in an editorial: "It is clearly not necessary to throw a goat from a belfry in order for a town to enjoy its fiesta. In fact, this should never happen again."
Its predecessors have been victims of vandals, who set the immense animal ablaze in 2010, 2012 and 2016. In 2013, an electrical fence was erected around the goat to fend off vandals, and in the past two years, it was monitored by a security team day and night.
In 2015, the goat went up in flames, due to malfunctioning Christmas lights, with which it was decorated. IKEA officials emphasized at the time that the Christmas lights had not been purchased at IKEA.
Wallberg is on the committee that oversees the construction of Gävlebocken, Gävle Goat, the name given to the 42-foot, 3-ton straw goat built every year in Gävle, Sweden, since 1966. This year, if traditions hold, Gävle has about a 50/50 chance of being burned to the ground.
Every December, the town spends approximately 1,000 person-hours constructing the goat from ropes, pine, and other (flammable) materials. It's built to coincide with the Christian holiday Advent, which this year fell on December 3, and it's taken down on New Year's Day (if it survives that long.) "Yule Goats" are a common motif in Scandanavian Christmas traditions, and the straw goat in Gävle is meant to be a large embodiment of that Christmas character. Exactly why goats are so strongly associated with the winter holiday is debated, but it's rooted in pagan celebrations.
Josefin Nordvall owns a lingerie shop in Gävle only a few hundred feet away from the goat's "pen." She sees it every morning on her way to open her store and says it inspires a special Christmas spirit.
On the night it burned down last year, Nordvall had been at a friend's house nearby when she decided to drive by her store to double check that everything was in order. When she entered the town square, she instead saw the straw goat ablaze. Fully lit, the 40-foot structure creates a fiery scene, with rolling plumes of smoke. By the time the fire burned through all the straw, only the bare skeleton was left.
"There's no stereotypical goat burner," says Owe Rosén, a Gävle resident who plays Christmas carols in the square. "The goat has been an easy target for drunk people walking home at night after visiting a pub." 2b1af7f3a8