Every Christmas season the town of Gävle erects a massive Goat made of hay called Gävlebocken. They have parties and fireworks to celebrate its arrival. People come from around the world to visit the goat and enjoy the festive decorations in the square. Then every single year, the goat is burned to the ground by vandals in the night.
The image above is from the Gävlebocken live webcam that you can watch anytime to see if the goat is still standing or if he has been burnt in an inferno of fire, as he is every year. The webcam also annually catches photos of shadowy evildoers running up to Gävlebocken and setting him on fire. Last year Gävlebocken made it until the long dark night of December 20th.
I don’t know why this poor beleaguered effigy in goat fills me with so much glee and seasons feelings, but I think it has something to do with its annual untimely end and its nervous twitter presence.
Because of course the live webcam isn’t the only way to follow dear Gävlebocken to his sinister end, the goat tweets its experience for your enjoyment both in Swedish and in English. Hilariously the tweets range from tentatively hopeful, to stressed out and fearful, and finally to the inevitable:
I’m so sad my friends that I have to leave you now! Thank you for this year! Take care and have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year!
— Gävlebocken (@Gavlebocken) December 21, 2013
What he is saying is that this happened: Leaving the poor citizens of Gävle with only a darkened wooden goat husk by which to remember his indomitable spirit: That’s Gävlebocken in the background, in the foreground is Gävlebocken’s little sister. They got her too!! (This image is from the 2011 burning.) Oh, would you like to meet the close goat relative who shares our friend Gävlebocken’s sad fate?
Isn’t she a cutie? Built by local students, isn’t that sweet? I wonder if tonight’s the night she burns.
The best thing about the Gävlebocken twitter is how hopeful and cheerful he is, at once spreading Christmas cheer and quietly hoping it won’t all end in flames this year, as it does every year. Or at least he seems cheerful and fearful to me, Gävlebocken is of course tweeting in his second and third languages of Swedish and English, after his mother tongue of Goat.
Then there’s the Gävlebocken fans who take to twitter to share their joy at his massive hay-stuffed presence, on display in the Castle square in Gävle, and reaching around the world via the Internet. They send him photos of mini Gävlebocken on their trees, well wishes, and stories.
Many of them share their hope that he does not get burned this year. But if you don’t want a 43 foot goat to be burned to the ground every year, maybe don’t use hay as your main construction material. Just a thought.
“Pesky firework. Ha ha ha, no big deal, I live in constant fear.”
Here’s a video a fan sent of Gävlebocken. It’ll get you in the spirit of the thing. My favorite part is the artistic shots of the candles burning in the foreground, both at the beginning and end.
The Christmas Goat in Gävle from Pixel Productions on Vimeo.
I have to wonder if the ritual burning is as much a part of the thing as anything else. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to waiting in anticipation for this big ass goat to burn to the ground. Happy holiday season!