20 April 2021

Zürich celebrated their version of Groundhog Day yesterday. The day used to always happen around the Vernal Equinox, which is the first day of Spring. However, around 1950 the celebration was moved to the third weekend of April. The entire celebration is called Sechseläuten. This is translated as the ringing of bells. Back in the “days” the trade guilds of Zürich worked 6 days a week. They had winter hours and summer hours. The winter hours were dawn to dark, the summer hours started at dawn, but ended at 6:00 PM when the Fraumünster bells rang. I find it kind of funny that they celebrated working longer hours, because they got paid a daily rate, which meant they worked more for the same money, but the longer days meant the workers actually got to spend some daylight with their families. Sometime around 1900 the festival included the burning of the snowman.

No one really knows when the tradition of the Böögg started. However, it was commonplace in the late 1600’s. Boys in one of the sections of town started burning snowmen, to celebrate the coming of spring. You know boys, fireworks, flames. What a fantastic combination… Back then there were multiple Bööggen. There were probably contests to see who could build the biggest, or have the biggest explosion. It is thought that Böögg is short hand for the boogeyman, but again, this is something that no one really knows for sure.

Over the years the tradition has become the faster the Böög burns, the better the summer will be. Of course the prediction comes true every year, because it is completely relative, and there is never a definition of what makes a good summer.

Last year the entire festival was cancelled due to Covid. This year, the festival was cancelled, but they still burned the snowman. The burning took place near Andermatt, on the Devil’s Bridge. A place I want to visit this summer. I recorded video of the celebration, but figured no one would like to listen to 6 minutes of German, so I did a little voice over with the history, and then added some music. I hope you enjoy it!

It is another quiet week, so I will have one more post this week, about something. No idea, yet, what I will write about.

Talk to you soon.

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