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Zurich Sechselauten 2011

April 12, 2011

This past Sunday my kids and I had the opportunity to take part in a traditional Zurich Spring celebration, Sechselauten.  This annual festival takes place in mid-April and dates back many centuries here in Switzerland.  Sechselauten literally refers to the “6 o’clock ringing of the bells” which marked a one-hour later end to the work day.  This change of work hours was historically a time to celebrate longer days, with more non-work hours to enjoy in the evenings, and a time to get ready for the coming of summer. 

My children and I attended the Sechselautern Children’s Parade on Sunday with over 3,000 children participating, ages 5 to 15, wearing historical costumes and marching over 3 miles through central Zurich.  The children in costumes were accompanies by hundreds of kids in Zurich’s youth bands.  There were also representatives of Zurich’s Global Youth representing Spain, Peru, Kosovo, China and Japan, amongst others.  At the end of the parade was the Böögg, or artificial snowman, who stood 10 feet high, made of straw, cotton and wool and charged with explosives awaiting his destiny to be burned at the bonfire the following day.

On Monday, members of Zurich’s 26 guilds marched, rode on houses and horse drawn carriages through Bahnholfstrasse and Limmatquai to Sechselauternplatz at Bellevue for the burning of the snowman.  The Böögg symbolizes winter and legend has it that the longer it takes for the snowman’s head to explode, the dimmer weather will be for the summer.  At 6pm yesterday, the bonfire was set fire and the Böögg was burned.  His head exploded in only 10 minutes and 56 seconds which is under the average of 14 minutes, promising a summer of good weather for all!

Here’s a slideshow of photos I took at the children’s parade:

-Jennifer Grinold
Travel Agent, Grin Travel

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