Did you know about the Swedish Christmas animal?

Christmas has just passed, okay, but Christmas is not only one day, rather we may say it’s about a longer period which is nestled in the cold European winter (even though in other parts of the globe, the season is the opposite).

Anyway, let’s stay in Sweden and focus on the Swedish traditions. I had the chance to observe how Swedes approach Christmas: darkness is faded by the lights that cover all the street and the houses in the cities; candies, cakes and other kinds of food and things that can sweeten the lack of sunlight; of course, how not to mention Santa Lucia and other habits!

But… surfing on the web I stumbled upon a strange and big Christmas animal.

A goat. Yes, a goat. You know what a goat is, don’t you?


Nope! Not this one. Scroll down.


Photo: http://meros.org/en/wonder/view?id=475

It’s a Christmas goat! And you can find it in Sweden of course! And no, sorry to inform you that you won’t find this goat roaming in the woods or in the cold Swedish lands. No. If you really want to meet this magic goat, you should visit Gävle.


Photo: http://np3fastigheter.se/var-hemmaplan/gavle/

It’s one of the most important cities in Sweden, and it’s situated in the Gävleborg County. I’ve to admit that I didn’t know this city before coming in this nordic country, but I’m glad to have found out where it is: it may be one of the destinations I’d really like to go to.

We were talking about the goat actually… I didn’t forget about that!

If the city of Gävle was a movie, the Goat – in Swedish Gävlebocken – would easily be recognised as the leading actor. Made of straw, the Goat comes from the Yule goat, a typical Scandinavian and Northern European symbol of Yule (an historical winter festival observed by Germanic people) and Christmas. The idea of putting a full-sized goat in the middle of the square has to be ascribed to Stig Gavlén in 1966. Since then, the Goat has been set up on the first day of Advent, every year.

Unfortunately, over the course of the years there have been cases when some vandals have tried, many times successfully, to burn the goat. Despite the efforts in order to prevent cases of fire, the Goat has been burned 36 times since the beginning of the tradition. Last November 2016, the Goat didn’t escape from another shameful attempt: an arsonist destroyed the symbol on its inauguration day, by using petrol.

I wonder why some people behave this way.

Anyway, tell me: have you heard about this typical Swedish tradition before? And, remember: you can always interact with the Goat here!



Featured image: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/04/gavle-goat-christmas-2013_n_4379179.html


Francesco avatar


  • Tena • 23 Apr 2017 at 7.10 pm Reply

    Hej hej, that’s a great description of the Gävlebocken tradition!
    I spent my Erasmus last year in Gävle and I loved it! You should really visit this nice city! And it’s really a pity that the goat is burnt down every year. Last year it only lasted for some short hours, all of the Internationals were really shocked.. 😀
    Great posts btw, I am thinking to come back to Sweden for my Master’s. 😉

    • Francesco
      Francesco • 23 Apr 2017 at 11.14 pm Reply

      Hej Tena! Thanks! 🙂 Yeah, I wish I could go there, seems really a nice city! Let’s see, maybe next year I’d be able to make it! And good luck with your plans if you decide to come back in Sweden, of course 😉

  • Sania
    Sania • 22 Jan 2017 at 9.56 am Reply

    I went to Gävle yesterday 😀

  • Andrés • 29 Dec 2016 at 1.02 pm Reply

    I find it so funny that people keep burning the goat, I think that’s a new tradition (a very dangerous one). They have tried everything to make the goat inflammable without any success hahahaha. Nice post Francesco!

    • Francesco
      Francesco • 30 Dec 2016 at 12.13 am Reply

      Eheh it’s really hard to ‘put an end’ to this phenomenon, almost every year there’s someone who wants to burn it down… let’s see if we can see an inflammable goat soon! 🙂 Many thanks anyway, Andrés!

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