“Runway ready! How do I look?” tweets Gävlebocken, the official social media account of Sweden’s famous Christmas goat. Indeed, he’s not only famous in Sweden: according to the Guinness Book of Records, Gävle’s Julbocken is the world’s largest Yule Goat. In a tradition dating back to 1966, Gävle city displays the 42 ft goat every December, and Swedes hope that he will survive the season. However, the odds haven’t always favoured the goat, which has been subject to arson attacks 30 times over 54 years.
The Battle to Protect Julbocken
Although setting fire to Julbocken is illegal, people try (and some succeed) to turn him into a burning effigy. In fact one year, an American tourist torched the goat, claiming that he thought he was partaking in a genuine Swedish tradition. Another year, Julbocken met his untimely demise at the flaming end of a burning arrow shot by a vandal in a gingerbread man costume. Over the years, he has also been damaged by a speeding car, and other acts of vandalism.
Peppis came by yesterday. I met him last year and thought he was a bit sketchy at first (don’t trust them gingerbreads you know 🏹🔥😱) but don’t worry – he’s one of the good guys! 😅#gävlebocken #vitjul #dontjudgeabookbyitscover @vitjul pic.twitter.com/KV5uDzO8Vd— Gävlebocken (@Gavlebocken) December 3, 2018
In order to protect the goat, security increases every year. Now, he has two fences, a fleet of taxi drivers, 24-hour CCTV, and security guards keeping a watchful eye over him. The measures are effective as the large goat has survived the last three years. Additionally, Julbocken has a baby brother, a smaller goat built by students at a local school. Sadly, he is under less protection than the larger goat, and so usually gets torched before Christmas – a sacrificial goat, as it were.
Today I am absolutely wretched! Someone attacked my little brother last night 😭😤 Not only am I devastated for him but the smoke evoked so many bad memories. Tonight I will definitely sleep with one eye open! 👀 #gävlebocken #backabocken pic.twitter.com/jzm2LFYKwR— Gävlebocken (@Gavlebocken) December 27, 2019
Sweden’s Social Media Star
Gävlebocken is so popular that he has his own Twitter and Instagram account, revealing his great sense of humour. In 2018, he tweeted after a drunken night-time visitor broke into his pen to go to the toilet. Of course, Gävlebocken, like most Swedes, is bilingual and tweets in English for the benefit of his international followers.
⚠️How do one come up with the idea to climb over two fences and in to a guarded square when you’re in need of a toilet at 2 am in the morning? 🤔— Gävlebocken (@Gavlebocken) December 31, 2018
Thank goat for my guards who saved me from a embarrasing moment. 🙏😳#mysquareisnotatoilet #gävlebocken
With visitors coming from around the world, many people hope that the increased security will hold up again this season. Although there will be fewer visitors, fans can follow the live cam and hope that he survives the fourth winter in a row.
Good luck, Julbocken!
You can read more about Gävlebocken here. If you liked this post, please share!