Article: Is That a Bow on the Christmas Goat, or a Bullseye?

From the December 18, 2006, New York Times:

Is That a Bow on the Christmas Goat, or a Bullseye?
By Tom Zeller Jr.

In keeping with the holiday spirit, a good-news story (so far, at least) from Gävle, Sweden, where the town’s giant Christmas goat (a 40-year tradition) survived its first attack by arsonists (also a 40-year tradition) and remains standing today in Castle Square.

According to news agency reports, since 1966 when the town first erected a 43-foot wood-and-straw goat, the seasonal sculpture has “been hit by flaming arrows, run over by a car and even had its legs cut off” and has made it intact past Christmas Day only 10 times.

A more detailed history from Wikipedia gives the Gävle Goat — apparently a version of the Yule Goat, a traditional Scandinavian Christmas symbol — a survival rate of 42 percent overall, with 13 of 31 goats surviving various assaults, including one last year by attackers dressed as Santa Claus and a gingerbread man.

Official Web cameras have been erected to monitor the goat (it’s still there, despite the poor odds, as of this writing). And an English language Web site, based in Sweden, for fans of the Gävle Goat offers a guestbook for those who might want to leave messages of support.

Last week’s attempt on the goat, which happened overnight on Thursday, was foiled by flame retardant chemicals, in which the goat’s straw had been soaked this year, officials said.

“Somebody tried to set fire to the right front leg, but the flame-resistant chemical worked 100 percent,” Kurt Lagerholm, chairman of the goat committee, told the Associated Press. “There’s a smell of gasoline and the ribbon is a bit smutty, but otherwise it’s unhurt.”