Snow is expected in much of Sweden this week, and with the start of December this weekend the giant Christmas straw goat in Gävle, usually about 13 metres high, will be erected and watched on web cams around the world. One problem, though, is that while the residents of Gävle want a christmas goat on the town square, some of them seem to be just as interested in burning it down.
Last year, the Gävle goat, which is built from straw, burnt down for what they say was at least the 28th time. Back in 2011 Anna Porelius, spokesperson for the goat, was not pleased.
"Somebody burned down the goat last night. We're very sad, so are people watching it on web cams in 140 countries around the world," Porelius said.
The plan had been to protect the goat by spraying water on, to freeze to ice. This failed because the weather was too warm. The straw statue still lasted for just over 24 hours on the town square, which is still a longer lifetime than some other years.
In 2010, security guards around the clock managed to stave off a few attempts to damage it. It survived the whole month. Three years before that, inflammable chemicals kept anyone from even trying to burn it down.
Regardless of the risk of another fire, Gävle municipality and the other local organisations that erect the goat are looking forward to its inauguration this Sunday.
But this year they are facing competition. From a goat in Örebro that its builders say cannot burn at all. "We're very prepared, so it cannot burn this year," a teacher working on erecting the goat told Swedish Radio.
In Gävle, mini goats have been sold to finance surveillance of the goat this year. Last year, they used that money to install a security camera, albeit in vain.