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Swedish city flame-proofs Christmas straw goat from vandals

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  • Imp Ster
    STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - 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
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2006
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      STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - 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 13-metre-high goat - a centuries-old yule symbol that predates
      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.

      But for its 40th anniversary Sunday, officials think they have
      finally outsmarted resourceful vandals by dousing the battered ram
      with flame-resistant chemicals normally used on airplanes.

      "It is impossible to burn it to the ground this year, although you
      might be able to singe its hooves," said Anna Ostman, a spokeswoman
      for the committee in charge of building the goat. "After 40 years,
      we think we finally found the solution."

      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."

      For those who want to follow its fate, a 24-hour web cam has been
      set up to film the straw goat where it stands on the central square
      in Gavle, 145 kilometres north of Stockholm.

      "We can sleep very soundly at night now," she said. "The goat can
      too."

      While the origins of the Christmas goat are unclear, the symbol is
      believed to date to Norse mythology and the two goats that drew the
      carriage of Thor, god of thunder.

      Many Swedes place a small straw goat underneath their Christmas
      tree, or hang miniature versions on the branches.

      Since 1966, just 10 of Gavle's giant goats have survived beyond
      Christmas Day. Aside from being burned, several were beaten down and
      the 1976 goat was hit by a car.

      The vandals are seldom caught, but the 2001 culprit - 51-year-old
      American Lawrence Jones - was convicted and spent 18 days in jail.

      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.

      http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/061203/koddities/oddity_christmas_
      goat

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