As we have posted before, Gävle is famous for its Christmas goat. Any town or household can have a julbocken (Christmas goat), but Gävle has a Gävlebocken. Over the last few days they have been assembling the Christmas goat, and today they held the opening ceremony. Things made of straw are generally a fire hazard, but the Christmas goat is especially vulnerable because lots of people try to burn it down. Here is a video of last year’s Gävlebocken burning:
At different times they have sprayed the goat with fire retardants, but it makes the goat grey and ugly, and is very unpopular. I think people also like the excitement and betting opportunity that comes with having a flammable goat – what’s the over/under on the Gävlebocken making it to Christmas this year? With certain important exceptions (New Haven anyone?) things are more fun on fire. The municipality have installed webcams so that people can enjoy the Gävlebocken around the clock and from far away – and also to identify any would-be arsonists. Check it out: http://www.merjuligavle.se/Bocken/Bockenkamera1/ The Gävlebocken is a very modern goat, so naturally he has a twitter account and blog .
At nearly all Christmas events in Sweden you find Glögg (like mulled wine) and pepparkador (thin crispy ginger cookies). Gävlebocken opening ceremonies of course had these things as well as knäck (a butter caramel), lussekattar (saffron buns), and hot dog stands. The invigning itself was great, with a choir competition, official opening of the goat, and a great batch of fireworks display. In a typical display of Swedish pragmatism and safety, lots of kids had ear muffs to protect against the very noisy fireworks. Nice!