top of page
  • Writer's pictureZanelle Awinyo

Arson as a Christmas Tradition?

This Article was written by Zanelle Awinyo

In 1966, when someone came up with the idea to design a giant version of the traditional Swedish Christmas straw goat; 'the yule goat,' its purpose had been to attract customers to the shops and restaurants in the southern part of the city.

While the original tradition in the small Swedish town was to just build a giant straw goat and put it in the town square, there is a second strange tradition that developed in Gävle, that involved burning the goat down.

The straw goat wasn’t meant to be like Burning man or Guy Fawkes’ Night, which were built to be burned down. Burning the goat down can get you arrested for arson and the people who make the giant straw goat don’t want their goat to be burned down. However, in the 50 years that the ten-meter-high, extremely unprotected goat, that was made out of extremely flammable straw has been made... the goat has only survived 12 times.

In 1976, merely ten years after its first debut, it was hit by a car.

In 1979, it was burned down even before it got to the town square and by 1988 you could place a bet on whether the goat would burn down (it burned down).

Later on in 2001, an American tourist burned it down; when he was arrested he said that his friends had told him that burning the goat was an entirely legal tradition. The man luckily only got a couple weeks in jail before leaving Sweden.

Not too long after in 2005, vandals dressed as Santa Claus and gingerbread men, fired a burning arrow at the goat, successfully burning it down.

The next year, even when the city tried to fireproof the goat; it still burned down.

Even though it’s illegal to burn the goat down, all it took for the tradition to begin was the same thing happening a few years in a row. Some may argue that it’s better since the purpose had been to attract customers. Burning the goat down is what made it famous and today the Gävle goat is known for its notorious tradition

And that's a free fact you now know…


Recent Posts

See All


Top Stories

bottom of page