Gävlebocken: The Fate of the Swedish Christmas Goat

The Julbocken or Christmas Goat made out of straw in the city of Gävle, Sweden is quite the sight to see. It holds the record for the worlds largest straw goat and I had the chance to see it last year in December. It is impressive but the best part about the Christmas Goat has to be the history surrounding it. Every year near Christmas time this giant straw goat is built up and every year there is someone or a group of people that make an attempt to burn it down. The city of Gävle has kept a history on the fate of the Christmas Goat every year dating back to 1966 when it was first created. There is actually a board near the site that you can read what happened to the goat year by year.

When I was there last year it was reported that an American man attempted to bribe one of the security guards to look the other way while he got a helicopter to come in hook it up and fly it down to Stockholm and burn it there. Supposedly one year the goat was burned down by someone using a flaming bow and arrow. I am also sure it says something about hackers putting the webcam on loop so they could hide their plan to burn the goat. That just goes to show you how much effort is put in by some people just for a piece of Swedish history. Imagine being the security guard and having all that pressure on you to guard and prevent a giant straw goat from getting burned down. Apparently the straw used on the goat is supplied by a whiskey company which I have to wonder, is it soaked in alcohol? Either way  the goat was not burned down last year so I am betting my money on it being burned down this year.

The Julbocken has a website dedicated to it and a live webcam running from when it is built until Christmas or New Years. I suggest checking it out once in a while because who knows you might get the chance to see a giant straw goat get burned down and who wouldn’t want to see that, right? Click here for the link to the webcam.

*Update Dec 1, 2011 – It appears the Goat has already been burned down judging by the webcam, my Swedish source says it was burned at 3am and only took 5 minutes, had to be the whiskey hay. You can read more about the burning here*


From Barn to Beautiful: A Sweetish Wedding Reception

Two friends of mine got married in Sweden back in June 2011 and I managed to make it and be apart of their wedding day or in Swedish, bröllop dagen. I am close friends to one of the families and got to be involved with some of the preparation that went on. It was located in the smallest community of Sweden in a town called Bjurholm with a population around 2000 people. One of the many highlights of this wedding was the location of the reception. It took place at a Folk Museum and the actual dinner was to be held in what most people described as a “barn”. It was dirty on the inside, the roof needed repairs in case it rained, and it was filled with a bunch of things that needed to be moved. Most were wondering what the bride was thinking, but they didn’t see the picture she had imagined in her head.

The family members and close friends were on hand to help prepare the reception area that was to take place in about a weeks time. There was some bickering bertween everyone on how it should look, but the bride was positive on how she wanted it to look. One thing I have learned at weddings is to back off and do whatever the bride says. After a little tug of war things got moved around how the bride had wanted. The floor was cleaned up, the tables were arranged nicely, lights and decorations started going up on the walls. Finally everyone was starting to understand what the bride was picturing all along. It ended up turning out amazing and I was asked to take some photos of the finished product. Bjurholm being a small town doesn’t get many tourists to it so maybe they can draw some money through weddings. Who knows a future Swedish couple might like what they see and decide to get married here all thanks to an image one bride believed in and stuck to, and some enhanced photos taken by a Canadian guy.

I use the photo editing software Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 to do all of my photo editing. I would like to use Adobe Photoshop one day but I just don’t have the budget right now, but Corel can get the job done. I edited all of these photos afterwards and the most notable thing I did to them was add a glamour effect. It makes the photo have this soft, slightly out of focus look that makes it almost seem like you’re dreaming. One of the best parts about taking pictures in Sweden is in the month of June there is light coming from the sun 24 hours a day. So you never have to worry about low light situations and have a longer time to get pictures when the sun is at that nice low angle casting long shadows.

*All the wedding reception set-up photos can be viewed here on the Flickr group.