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Burning the Christmas goat

Scott Woodham

According to the UK's Telegraph, the city of Gävle, Sweden, erects a massive, straw-covered goat statue every year to celebrate the Christmas season, and each year for the last 24, vandals have set fire to it, creating a new tradition for Yule. In 2006 and 2007, the city stewards covered the goat with flame-retardant chemicals, but decided to stop because it discolored the straw. This year, the tradition continued. Read more, here. Incidentally, in case you're unfamiliar with the role of goats in Scandinavian Christmas traditions, check out the Capital City Weekly's story about the Norwegian tradition of "julebukking" as it's practiced in Alaska's very own Little Norway, the town of Petersburg. Julebukking originated with ancient pagans who would disguise themselves and go from house to house during the holiday season, carrying goat heads on poles and seeking refreshments in honor of the god Thor and his legendary goat. In modern times, the tradition has lost the goat heads and grown to resemble Halloween trick-or-treating. In Petersburg, local businesses offer free food and drinks, and the whole town turns out -- Norwegian-American or not. Read more, here.