It's called the "Gävle Goat," or as the locals call it, Gävlebocken.

The Gävle Goat is an enormous, 40-foot-plus traditional Swedish Yule Goat made of straw over a wooden frame. Erected every year for the season of Advent, it resides in Castle Square in the city of Gävle, Sweden, where its origin can be traced all the way back to 1966. Originally conceived of as a symbol of Christmas that the city could rally around, the design features subtle changes from year to year.

It's a good idea in theory, but in practice... Well... People keep burning the darn thing down.

The very first year it was built, a vandal struck on New Year's Eve and the Gävle Goat went up in flames. The Goat survived the next two years, but the exact same kind of arson happened three years later, in 1969. In 1970, the Goat survived just six hours before it was set on fire. In 1979, the Goat was destroyed by fire before it was even built. A new one was built with fresh supplies, and it was burned down too. On at least five occasions the Goat has been fireproofed — and every single time, it was still burned down. Gävle was hit by a major blizzard in 1988, but even buried under snow, the poor Goat was killed by fire. But fire is hardly the only tool those crazy Swedes have used to kill their giant Yule Goat. More creative vandals have hit it with cars, torn it down, shot fireworks into it and more. In 2005, some Katniss Everdeen wannabes shot flaming arrows into it. Kids played around its base in early years, and a persistent rumor says that in 1968, a particularly naughty couple actually climbed up inside the Goat and had sex. (The next year, it was enclosed in chicken wire and a perimeter fence.)

In 2010, someone actually attempted to steal the Goat with a helicopter. They were unsuccessful.

As you might imagine, watching Gävle's Yule Goat has become a national pastime in Sweden. Sort of a game now every Christmas, Swedes — and people in other parts of the world, too — monitor the Goat throughout December with baited breath to see if this year's Goat will survive. By 1988, European bookies were taking odds on the Goat's fate. The Goat itself is now a symbol of the city of Gävle, drawing tourists and driving commerce. It's even been remade in Minecraft.

In 1996, webcams were trained on the Yule Goat for the first time, and the Goat survived, though it only deterred vandals that first year. By 2009, criminals had become sophisticated enough to carry out a DoS attack on the webcams while they snuck in and destroyed the Goat.

It's worth noting that even though watching (and even burning) the Yule Goat has become a playful (if mean-spirited) tradition, the Swedish government still considers vandalizing the Goat a crime and will prosecute anyone who destroys it or attempts to.

At the time of this writing, the 2014 Gävle Goat was still standing. You can monitor its status via this live webcam.

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