Monday, December 24, 2007
Burn the Goat!
This is a Christmas tradition I'm going to have to see in person at some point: the Julbocken i Gävle, Sweden's giant straw goat. This was first brought to my attention by the Elk (natural enemy of the goat, I guess) way back in 2006 -- each year, some Swedes put up a straw goat, and other Swedes then try to set it on fire. This is what 20 hours of darkness daily does to you.
Wikipedia has (against all odds) a comprehensive and helpful page on ol' Julbocken, including a timeline that makes for great reading, particularly after a few drinks. Some highlights from the goat's history, dating all the way back to 1966 (!):
* "Local hillbillies ran the goat over with a car."
* "The goat was burnt even before it was erected. A new one was built and fireproofed. It was destroyed and broken into pieces."
* "Burned by unknown vandals reportedly dressed as Santa and a gingerbread man by shooting a flaming arrow or molotov cocktail at the goat at 21:00 on 3 December."
Not to mention a visitor from the troublemaking city of Cleveland, Ohio, who had his cigarette lighter confiscated afterwards because he was not responsible in using it. Oh, and this entry:
* "it is said that one night a couple made love inside the goat. As a result, in subsequent years the inside of the goat has been protected by a chicken net." -- Sex gets them to protect the goat, but not repeated burnings?
The goat now has his (her? its?) own webpage, with two webcams (so you can check on goat-burning status) and the goat's own blog (far more regularly updated than this one, let me tell you). Again, some pretty good reading, especially when the goat or his/her/its ghostwriter suggests that Santa is going to pass out in a ditch in Sweden and the goat will have to take over present-delivering responsibilities, and as a result you should leave some mulled wine out.
On that note, Merry Christmas from the PPA! I head back to Colorado on Friday, at which point, hopefully, the batteries will recharge a bit.