I am a goat. Burn me.Sunday was Forsta Advent, which apparently is a big holiday in Sweden, not that anyone told us that in advance. I suppose lacking Thanksgiving as an indicator that the Christmas season has begun, they are forced to rely upon the ecclesiastical calendar. In any case, we already had plans for the day: we caught a ride up to Gävle to witness the Invigning of this year's Julbock.
For those not in the know, in December 1966 someone built a big straw goat in downtown Gävle. At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, it burst into flames. Thus was born Gästrikeland's most beloved Yule time tradition. Over the years the goats have gotten larger (topping out at just under 15 m high, before settling to a happy size of about 12 m, and 3 tons of straw), and just over 50% of the goats have burned down. For the past two years the goat has been successfully fireproofed, but the chemical caused the goat to turn a dull brown. This year the fireproofing has been discontinued, so that the goat can once again stand proud and yellow (and, no doubt, so that the goat will burn once more and get Gävle back in the news). What's more, the straw was specially donated by Gävle's local whiskey distillery, Mackmyra, so I suppose it must be extra flammable.
Not wanting to risk missing the goat, we wanted to see it on its official birthday. We got to Gävle around 3:30, amidst the steady drizzle and falling temperatures, and managed to find parking and follow the streaming crowds to the goat just in time for the opening ceremony to begin. The goat was already lit up, of course, but there was some talking, and then some music, and then some more talking, after which everyone clapped. There was quite a large crowd gathered for the whole thing. Once the talking was done, there was a very nice fireworks show in the park right across the street from the goat—I haven't been that close underneath fireworks since the Guy Fawkes Day I spent in Glasgow (with the possible exception of that one year at Baroda where we wound up parked in the front and the wind shifted…). Yeah, the Goat Council is really going all out to avoid Goat combustion.
Here's us on the webcam a few minutes after the crowd dispersed (we're the group of four front and center (from the left, Joe, G. D., and J!)):
And here's Jennifer contemplating getting deported:
There were fireworks, the goat survived, and none of us got arrested. I call that a successful trip to Gävle.