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Gävle, a town in Sweden, has an odd holiday tradition. Every year, the government builds a giant straw goat, but for the last 50 years, it has survived the season very few times.

The goat, an expensive undertaking of local community groups, is not legally allowed to be burned, but residents burn the Gävle Goat, or Gävlebocken in Swedish, anyway.

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The history of the Gävle goat burning is incredible, as two strong forces in the city — police and vandals — duke it out, trying to protect and burn down, respectively, it and other constructed goats within the city.


Probably the most interesting element about this tradition is the ways people try to protect the goat, adding guards, fences, webcams and fireproofing — and still the arsonists manage to find ways to burn it, year after year.

The Wikipedia page for the Gävle Goat has a year-by-year breakdown of the arsonists’ attempts and successes, as well as the defenses put in place by the city to guard against the people burning it.

In 2016, the goat was burned almost a day after it was completed.

This was accompanied by a sad message from the goat’s Twitter account.

Take heart, Goat. There’s always next year.

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