Thursday, 13 December 2012

Goat burning in Sweden

One of those weird and wonderful Christmas traditions from around the world is that of the Gävle goat. For those unaware, it is 3.6 tonne, 13m tall goat built from straw in time for the start of advent in the Swedish city of Gävle. You can view it from a webcam and it looks something like this:

Unfortunately, this year's incarnation met a fiery death due to arson and now looks something like this:

That isn't unusual as it tends to get burnt down every other year and I have to admit that some of the attraction is to see if it actually lasts the Christmas season or gets torched. Over the years, it has been set alight using a flaming arrow and in 2009, the webcams were knocked out by a DoS attack so the arsonists could burn it without being filmed. There are some pretty dedicated and resourceful goat-burners out there...

Today though, I read an interview with the Chairman of the Goat Committee (yep, really!) and this part stood out:
It's one of Sweden's most famous trademarks all over the world ... I think last year it was burned down after five days, and we had about 100 visitors. The year before that we had 225,000 visitors from over 125 countries. It's very famous all over the world. What's going to happen with some of the visitors this year, I don't know yet.
In 2010 it didn't burn down so assuming those figures are correct, an unburnt goat clearly brings in a lot of  business to the city. The goat is funded by local traders and it used to have a security guard and a back-up goat in case the original was burnt down. Those are no longer affordable, and even less so if the tourists don't turn up and spend money. That's the serious side of this - the hit that the traders take in lost business because of a burnt goat is no doubt substantial.

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