“Miss Brenner, I understand that burning down the Gävle Goat is a popular meme on the internet, but actually burning it down is a serious crime,” said the consular official.
Brianna nodded. “I know-”
“It carries a maximum of a three-month prison sentence,” said the consular official. “Your status as a visiting Canadian would not protect you.”
“I know, but-”
“The Swedish police found a longbow and kerosene in your possession, and the fact that they’re willing to drop the charges is - frankly - a miracle.”
Brianna was bouncing her leg underneath the table, sending little anxious tremors through the metal.
“All the police chief wants is the secure knowledge that you won’t attempt it again as soon as you’re let out of this room,” said the consular official.
The leg stopped. The table stilled.
“Is the goat still standing?” Brianna asked.
It wasn’t an encouraging answer.
The consular official - whose name was Allan Allman - drummed his fingers on the table. Brianna Brenner did not look like an arsonist. He didn’t know what an arsonist looked like, but whatever the image he could conjure was, Brianna Brenner did not look like it. She looked like she was going to throw up.
He made up his mind. “Brianna,” he said. “You chose to invoke your right to contact the Canadian embassy. Any information you give me will remain confidential under the provisions of the Privacy Act.” He gestured to the four walls with his pen. “It never has to leave this room.”
There was a window on one wall, showing a shiny, dawning New Years Day through steel mesh. Brianna stared out of it gloomily.
“If someone is coercing you, or otherwise compelling you to do this…” Allan shrugged. “I don’t know, but if that’s the case, you should let the police know about this.”
For the first time since he had walked into the room, Brianna Brenner looked at Allan in the eyes.
“They wouldn’t be able to help,” she said.
That definitely wasn’t an encouraging answer.
She seemed to make up her own mind and sat up. “Okay,” she said. “Okay - Christ how do I even start this - okay. So. My grandfather was Bjørner Brenner. He burned down the goat in 2005.”
Allan blinked. “Okay?”
“And in 2004,” she said. “And 2000, 1998, 1995, 1991, and - and probably more times than that. And you know, when you’re a kid, you don’t really ask questions, and you figure that’s just what Grandpa does, he goes to Sweden once a year and burns down a goat.”
Her leg was bouncing under the table again. Little ripples trembled through a cup of coffee.
“And then - and then when I was like, ten? He sat me down and told me that Thor had chosen him as the descendant of Thialfi to hunt down the Yule Goat, however it appeared.”
She made a high, hysterical noise at Allan’s expression, less of a laugh and more of a bubble of familial horror rising to the surface. “Oh, I know! It’s crazy, I always thought it was crazy. But then, you know, it just became part of what Grandpa does. He goes to Sweden and talks to Thor.”
“Is your grandfather the person forcing you to burn down the goat?”
“No,” she said. “No, Grandpa died about seven years ago. And then other people burned down the Gävle Goat, and then it became a meme online, and it was kind of sad and kind of weird, but I liked that my Grandpa was part of this weird, weird thing.
“And then last week-”
She stopped bouncing her leg. She stared around the room, looking anywhere but at Allan’s face.
“And the thing is-” She stopped. She tried again. “The goat hadn’t burned down in the last four years, and if it isn’t-”
An anxious tremor shook the floor. Another ripple rolled across the coffee.
Brianna pulled her fingers through her hair. “I sound insane,” she said. “Christ. But then - then He showed me what would happen if the goat wasn’t burned down.”
Another tremor. Another ripple.
“Brianna?” asked Allan.
“Thor killed the Yule Goat every night,” she said. She stared into a private universe of horror. “Killed every night, and resurrected every day. Thialfi broke the cycle, and it became his job to make sure the cycle could continue.”
Another tremor. Muffled by the metal door, someone was shouting in the hall.
“Then it turned to every year. Then every other year. The goat has been left untouched for longer and longer, and now it’s been left untouched for longer than it ever has before.”
Another tremor. More shouting. The sounds of running.
“Thor didn’t kill the Yule Goat to be cruel. He did it so that its power wouldn’t grow too great.”
Now a tremor shook the whole room. The coffee leaped and rolled and fell to the floor with a clatter.
Something huge, bipedal, and bellowing blotted out the sun through the window.
It was made of straw.
“Happy new year,” said Brianna.
The winter solstice is nearly here! Here are some ways to celebrate the longest night of the year ⭐️ ☀️
Oranges 🍊 lemons 🍋 meat 🥩 cranberries ❣️ potatoes 🥔 nuts 🌰 chocolates 🍫 mushroom 🍄 bread 🍞 stews and soups 🥘 hot chocolate ☕️ Yule log cake 🎂 cinnamon 🪵 rosemary 🍃
Red ❤️ green 🎄 gold ⚜️ silver 🪙white ☁️ blue 💎
Mini Yule tree 🌲 mini Yule log 🪵 solar representations ☀️ dried orange slices 🍊 whole star anise ⭐️ candles 🕯snow globes ❄️ greenery from nature 🍃 cinnamon sticks
Ametrine🔮 citrine 💛 amber 🧡carnelian ❤️ snowflake obsidian 🖤amethyst💜 diamond 💎 emerald 💚sapphire 💙
Bake a Yule log cake 🎂
Make dried orange and cinnamon garlands 🍊
Make paper snowflakes ❄️
Decorate a Yule tree 🌲
Have a bonfire and roast hotdogs and marshmallows 🔥
Write wishes on bay leafs and burn them 🍃
Do a house cleansing 🏡
Take a Yule bath 🛀
Do sabbat divination 🔮
Bury the corn husk dolls you made at lughnasad, mabon, or/and Samhain if you made them 🌽
Decorate your house with greenery and holly 🌲
Have a season feast with friends and family 🍲
Drink hot chocolate with spices that correspond with your intention stirred in ☕️
Let me know if you plan on trying any of these ideas and have an amazing Yule! 🌲 ⛄️