Since the early 20th century, every third Monday of April Zurich’s Spring holiday festival, Sechseläuten or in Swiss German Sächsilüüte, takes place. The festival begins with a parade of 3,500 people representing different historical guilds, everyone dressed up in medieval clothes, playing music and walking around the city.
I have never seen so many people dressed up in medieval clothes, the atmosphere was surreal! However, at the heart of the festival is the explosion of a snowman, called böögg. Yes, you read it correctly, people in the city of Zurich actually get a whole afternoon off work to go see a snowman explode! The snowman is positioned on a stake on the main square of Zurich where everyone can see it, his head filled with explosives. The stake is then set on fire and while a group of horsemen dressed up in medieval clothes rides around the stake, people wait for the böögg to burn. The atmosphere is great with thousands of people watching the snowman as the flames start to slowly reach it and tension rises as the snowman starts exploding. Finally, when the head explodes, the festival is over and the faster the snowman’s head explodes, the better the weather is expected to be in the coming summer!
This year the snowman’s head exploded in 9.56 minutes, so the coming summer is predicted to be a good one! However, the real party only begins now! The historical centre is then filled with parties, groups of guilds playing music on the streets, DJs in side streets setting the party mood and all this while people go to the ashes of the stake and start baking sausages! It is a truly amazing and unique experience to participate at Sächsilüüte and surely a day I will never forget!
Written by Viktoria Cologna – ETH Zurich, Switzerland