Böögg (Bassersdorf) by bht

Zürich scares winter off by packing a snowman with explosives, lighting it on fire, and measuring the time until its head blows off. I am not making this up.

There’s a dedicated square in the city for this (Sechseläutenplatz), and many people get a half day off work to watch the parade of the Zünfte (guilds), watch the Böögg explode, and grill Cervelat on the smoldering bones of winter. The tradition is slightly feudal, and dates to the age when the city was ruled by the guilds. Sechseläuten (literally “the six o’clock (p.m.) ringing of the bells) marked the day after which work ended at six (as opposed to “at dark”). Many of the same guilds exist today (the oldest date to 1336), primarily as old-money social clubs, and this is their biggest party of the year.

Being freshly minted suburbanites, we decided to check out the lower-key affair up the road in Bassersdorf. Downsides: it’s smaller, poor public transit connections. Upsides: you can actually get close enough to watch the Böögg go boom without showing up at nine in the morning, and having been founded in the 21st century as a deliberate satire of the parade down the road, it takes itself even less seriously than the real thing.

Brian Trammell
Brian Trammell
Scientist, Synthesist, Cyclist, SRE