STOCKHOLM— Not even a layer of ice was enough to keep three people from torching the straw goat in a Swedish town where the annual challenge of burning it to the ground has become an odd Christmas tradition for vandals.
The 43-foot high and 3.6 ton straw goat in the Swedish town of Gavle, meant to symbolize the seasonal spirit, was destroyed Thursday after the assailants crossed the fence surrounding it and set it on fire.
Over the years, the goat has been burned down 26 times.
‘‘Three guys snuck up to it and injected something into its leg and torched it,’’ said Eje Berglund, who chairs the committee in charge of setting it up.
The straw goat is a centuries-old Scandinavian Yule symbol that preceded Santa Claus as the bringer of gifts to Swedish homes. Many Swedes place a small straw goat underneath their Christmas trees, or hang miniature versions on the branches.