If you’re a gambler, the bookies in Gävle, Sweden are still taking bets on the fate of this year’s Gävlebocken ( Gävle Goat ). Each winter since 1966 the city in central Sweden has been erecting a 40-foot tall straw goat in Slottstorget in the middle of town. And for 30 of the last 46 years, the massive Jule Goat has been destroyed by vandals.
The Yule Goat is a popular winter tradition in Scandinavia dating to pre-Christian times. But that hasn’t saved Gävle’s Goat since the first version was torched on New Years Eve 1966. Over the following decades, the goat has suffered 26 more burnings, once within hours of its erection, its been kicked down by drunken vandals, smashed by a Volvo in 1976, set on fire with flaming arrows shot by Santa Claus and a life-sized gingerbread man, attacked with fireworks, and even torched by a misguided American tourist who was convinced that it was a legitimate tradition. In 2010, there was a well-funded effort to kidnap the goat by helicopter and deposit it in Stockholm’s city center that was foiled by a security guard. Last year the goat only lasted until it was burned down on December 12th. (see the video below).