The famous Christmas Goat in the city of Gävle, 200 km north from Stockholm was burnt down last night. Shortly after three am the police in Gävle was alarmed about the fire. Five minutes after, the Christmas goat made of straw was burnt down. Only the skeleton remained. See video clip here from the local online newspaper GD.se.
The Christmas goat in Gävle 2004. Photo from Wikipedia.
This year's Christmas goat was the 45th since it was introduced in 1966. It has been burnt down 28 times. Since 1988, it has been possible to bet on whether the goat will burn or not.
One of the most bizarre goat-burning incidents occurred in 2001. Then a 51-year-old visitor from the USA (Cleveland, Ohio) burned down the goat. The somewhat surprised American was caught by nearby passers and spent 18 days in Swedish jail. The man was convicted to pay SEK 100,000 in damage and furthermore, the court also confiscated his cigarette lighter with the argument that he clearly was not able to handle it. The American claimed in the court that he is no "goat burner", and believed that he was taking part in a completely legal goat-burning tradition. After the man was released from prison he went straight back to the US without paying his fine. As of 2006 it is still unpaid.
P.S. The author of this article originates from the city of Gävle and would like to enlight the reader of the fact that the burning down of the Christmas goat is not a PR-trick as many people in Sweden believe. The Christmas goat is a very appreciated tradition in Gävle and it is the author's firm view that most people in Gävle want to see the goat "alive" at least until Christmas.