Taunting arsonists … with a goat.

In a long standing battle, Swedes guard Christmas goat from vandals:

For 40 years it has been torched, vandalized, had its legs cut off and even been run over by a car. But officials in the Swedish city of Gavle are guaranteeing that this year’s giant straw Christmas goat — the victim of Sweden’s most violent yule tradition — will survive unscathed.

The 43-foot-high goat — a centuries-old yule symbol that preceded Santa Claus as the bringer of gifts to Swedish homes — has been burned down 22 times since it was first set up in Gavle’s square on Dec. 3, 1966.

Not just content with enjoying a good holiday tradition, they decide to ruin the fun:

The company providing the fireproof treatment is so sure of its resilience that its spokesman Freddy Klassmo told newspaper Aftonbladet that “not even napalm can set fire to the goat now.”

Ah, well, sure, but is it really a good idea to throw down the gauntlet with a challenge like that?

This is a big deal, and one of the funniest things I’ve read. I saw this last year and sent an e-mail about it. Almost exactly one year ago, on 4 dec 05, AP had an article on the wire about this traditional goat burning. I think I picked it up from Fark, but the Yahoo link to “Giant Swedish Goat set on fire. Again.” appears to be dead. I tried to find the 2005 article in the AP archives, but it wasn’t immediately apparent. There might be mention of this in two summary articles, but the original article itself seems to have gone away and I am not willing to pay $3.95 each to find out what the summary articles say.

But, really, what could be more fun that burning giant goats effigies for the holidays? The image I linked to here is a file photo from the 2005 burning, of which the current article notes:

The 2005 vandals — who witnesses said were dressed up as Santa Claus and the Gingerbread Man — remain at large. The pair fired flaming arrows at the goat, reducing it to its steel skeleton.

You can see an image of the smoking remains from 2005 here: Yahoo! News Photo