The demise of this Swedish Christmas goat has come early

LONDON — Alas, even Sweden isn’t safe from the wrath of 2016. 

In our continued coverage of extended metaphors for this tumultuous year, here’s a holiday-themed analogy of well-intentioned calamity.   

The tale starts out quaintly enough. In the Swedish town of Gävle, there is a lovely holiday tradition of erecting a charming goat effigy. 

The structure, complete with red ribbons and twinkling lights, is built in tribute to the Scandinavian Yule Goat, a time-honored symbol of the season. 

The town gathers around the structure to greet the goat on the first day of Advent. According to the BBC, this year (for the goat’s 50th anniversary) around 2.3m kronor (£200,000; $250,000) was spent on its construction and the associated festivities. 

Nåja, vad är väl ett 50-årskalas på Slottstorget..? Det kan vara dötrist och långtråkigt och alldeles… alldeles underbart! ✨❤️?

— Gävlebocken (@Gavlebocken) November 27, 2016

Another unofficial ritual that has sprung up around this picturesque custom? 


Over the past 50 years, 35 of the giant wooden and straw structures have been destroyed. Last year, the goat, affectionately called Gävlebocken, made it to 27 December before arsonists set it ablaze. 

This year, Gävlebocken didn’t even last 24 hours. 

Sweden's Christmas Goat went up in flames just hours after it was inaugurated on Sunday.

Sweden’s Christmas Goat went up in flames just hours after it was inaugurated on Sunday.

Image: ap / Pernilla Wahlman

Despite increased security and CCTV set up to monitor the “goat,” an arsonist managed to do the deed when a guard left his post to use the toilet. 

Based on a Twitter account set up on its behalf, Gävlebocken has evidently adopted a resigned outlook on its fate: 

Oh no, such a short amount of time with you my friends. ? But I shall rise from the ashes and see you next year again!

— Gävlebocken (@Gavlebocken) November 27, 2016