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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 January 2007, 17:12 GMT
Swedish 'goat' defies arsonists
This year's Gavle goat
The 2006 goat was flameproofed...
A Swedish straw goat frequently attacked by vandals over the Christmas period has been taken down - unharmed - at the end of festivities.

The giant 13m (43ft) goat in the city of Gavle was dismantled after surviving Christmas for only the 11th time.

Goats of Christmas past have been burned down on 22 occasions, ram-raided or simply smashed to pieces.

Authorities said the goat's longevity in 2006 was down to a special flame-resistant chemical coating.

"If the Gavle goat hadn't been impregnated with flame-resistant chemicals, we would have been left with a black skeleton," said Anna Oestman, a member of the city's goat committee.

In 2005, arsonists dressed as Santa Claus and the Gingerbread Man burned the goat to the ground.

Secret storage

Gavle's Christmas goat was first installed in the town's central square in 1966.

Last year's Gavle goat
...the 2005 goat was not.
Some have been burnt down within hours of being erected during the first week of December.

The culprits are seldom caught. However, a 51-year-old American tourist spent 18 days in jail after being convicted of setting it alight in December 2001.

The successful flame-proofing of the 2006 goat was not the first time authorities have put their faith in retardants - a substance tried once before washed off in the rain.

The undamaged goat would be stored at a secret location before being wheeled out for Christmas again at the end of this year, officials said.

Goats have a special place in Swedish tradition, delivering festive gifts - according to Swedish folklore - before Santa Claus took over that role.

Country profile: Sweden
04 Sep 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Sweden
03 Dec 04 |  Country profiles

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