Earlier this week we were discussing what to do this weekend. First, we thought about going to Trosa and enjoy the annual Christmas market. As we will soon go to Trosa in any case, we instead decided to go somewhere else. Actually, we ended up drawing a circle around Stockholm looking for anything of interest within a 90 minutes drive. Living in the north of Stockholm, we opted to only look in the second quadrant. Here we found places such as Avesta, Sala, Uppsala, and Västerås. Eventually, our eyes found Gävle. This Northern Swedish town is the home to the famous Gävle Goat, or in Swedish Gävlebocken.
We left Stockholm this morning and headed north. The weather forecast for Stockholm was foreseeing a dark day. Luckily it looked more promising for Gävle.
Driving to Gävle from Stockholm is impossible to describe in any other word than easy. Highway E4 goes all the way and you will just have to remember to turn off after around 150 kilometers. Our only problem turned out to be the usual. How to find a parking spot? The GPS only wanted to suggest the road that was closed down this weekend. So we did drive around for quite some time before finding a parking spot.
A Walk Through Gävle
Neither Susann nor I had previously been to the center of Gävle. We have both been in the area before, but never actually visited the city. Gävle is similar to many other towns around Sweden, but it is especially famous for one thing. That is the huge straw goat that shows up each year and that almost always is the victim of an arson attack.
The first thing we did upon arrival was to find the square where the goat stands and get a photo, just to be sure in case it would be burned down before our return. If you read about the goat’s history, you will find out that the fate of the goat is never to be taken for granted.
After a short visit to say hello we enjoyed a nice walk along the stream Gävleån. The temperature stayed at around 0 degrees Celsius and with sunshine and no wind it was a really nice day for a walk. We also took the chance to have a short fika, enjoying some spicy chai latte and hot tea,
Our walk eventually took us back to Gävlebocken. This was the day of the 2017 year inauguration and the crowd gathered at the square. There were a choir and a band singing traditional Christmas songs and a firework finale. Having Little A with us, we decided to leave before the fireworks. On the way back to the car we saw the Christmas market stalls. Soon we were on our way back to Stockholm.
The Interesting Life of Gävlebocken or the Gävle Goat
Gävlebocken is a huge hay goat. It is however not the size that it is famous for. Yes, previous editions have made it into the Guinness World Records. It is, however, the fate of the goat that has made it to the history books. This is the 51st edition of the goat, the first one saw daylight in 1966. Out of the 50 last editions, only 14 have survived.
Multiple goats have been burned down, others have been damaged and one was even stolen. Here are some of the more interesting fates of Gävlebocken.
- 1966: the first edition of the goat and it was burned on the night of the new year.
- 1970: the goat survived for 6 hours before it was burned down.
- 1973: the goat was stolen. A man took the goat home and had it in his backyard. He was later sentenced to two years of imprisonment.
- 1976; a student drove a Volvo Amazon into the goat’s legs, causing it to collapse.
- 1979: the goat was burned before it was finished.
- 1998: it was burned down in the middle of a snowstorm.
- 2001: it was burned down by an American tourist, who thought that it was a Swedish tradition.
- 2005: two perpetrators dressed as Santa Claus and a Gingerbreadman fired flaming arrows at the goat, causing it to burn down.
- 2011: the plan was to coat the goat with ice to prevent fires. It was too warm to ever get the ice ready and someone burned down the goat.
- 2013: the goat was impregnated with a flame retardant, the goat was still burned down.
- 2016: the goat only survived for a few hours after its inauguration.
Tom Scott has a video on Youtube from last year, he really succeeds in describing the fate of Gävlebocken.