Modern Zurich is considered to be the financial centre of Europe. But apart from making money Swiss people are great at having fun. Every year Zurich holds many cultural events and feasts which are famous far beyond the country. Any of it is worth taking a trip to Zurich, but now let’s have a look at the most enchanting festival of spring – the Sechseläuten!
The celebration usually takes place in April on a Monday. It starts with the adorable Children’s Parade where kids of Zurich all dress up in fancy historical costumes and walk through the city accompanied by musicians.
The next day, the real event starts, the Sechseläuten Parade – about 3,500 guild members on foot, horsemen, horse-drawn parade floats and music ensembles all march from Bahnhofstrasse to Sechseläutenplatz where the bonfire with the Böögg awaits. The Böögg is a giant figure of a snowman that symbolizes the winter. Winter has to go away and give its place to spring – the people of Zurich set the Böögg on fire and the quicker it explodes the warmer the summer will be.
But where does the tradition come from? In order to find the roots, we should go back to the 16th century. In winter, all the works lasted while there was daylight (usually until 5 pm) but in spring and summer the end of the working day was proclaimed by the church bells that rang at 6. It was the first 6 o’clock bell ring that announced the beginning of spring and all the citizens celebrated new working hours. In fact, that’s exactly what the German word Sechseläuten literally means – the six o’clock ringing of the bells!
Burning the Böögg is a crucial part of the Sechseläuten Festival today but before the end of the 19th century these events took place separately. Back then the boys of Zurich would burn the bogeyman-like figures the same time as the guilds walk in the Sechseläuten parades and later it all became one big celebration of the Sechseläuten!
Fantastic Tradition in Fantastic Zurich!
Fantastic Switzerland Association