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death of a snowman (der Böögg)

April 20, 2010

Yesterday, while our friends and family in Boston were celebrating Patriot’s day yesterday by watching the Sox or cheering on marathoners, Mr. KC and I headed to Zürich to take in Sächsilüüte.  There are countless Swiss festivals that we’ve been meaning attend, we managed to get to Klausjagen this winter and I was greatly looking forward to Zürich’s annual spring festival as it involved an exploding snowman and how often do you get to see that?!

Sächsilüüte in a nutshell:  It’s basically the Swiss version of Groundhog’s day, just a few “minor” differences.

Instead of…

  • a groundhog they have the a snowman sitting on top of a pyre stuffed with explosives.
  • getting up at the crack of dawn to watch a groundhog, the Swiss set the pyre on fire at 6pm after a city-wide party.
  • making the weather prediction based on whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow, the determination is made based on how long it takes for the snowman to explode.  The faster the burn, the better the summer.

All of this definitely makes people pretty excited to watch a burning snowman.  I for one wanted to go with a sign that read “Burn, Böögg, burn!”, but Mr. KC put his foot down on that one.  Maybe next year.

The Böögg burn is undoubtedly the climax of the day, but it’s by no means the only bit.  The main event is preceded by a 3-hour long parade of the Zürich Zünften or guilds which included, but was not limited to,  teenage boys tossing dead fish at people on balconies and through open windows, a man in a bear suit being led around on a chain by a man dressed in period garb, and countless men in “tan face” dressed as Arabs receiving flowers from women in the crowd.    I don’t think I’ll ever really “get” it, but we chalked it up to a cultural experience and I just hid behind my camera as much as possible.

How did it all end?  Are you dying to know what this summer holds?  Well, the Böögg went up in 12mins and 54secs.  Not record-breaking, but hopefully it means we have a decent summer to look forward to.

Thanks, Böögg, we need it.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2010 8:38 pm

    wow, you got some really incredible photos of the böögg !! how did you get so close ? next year i’m coming with you – and yes, we can totally hold up the sign together, ha ha !

    well, i guess we’ll see just how accurate the explosive predictions are. summer… we’re ready for you ! 🙂

    oh, just replied to you on my böögg post too – a possible answer to your fishy question ! going to share your link too so my readers can see your pics !

    • April 20, 2010 9:04 pm

      Thanks, Kerrin. We arrived rather early and stood around for what seemed to be forever (really just 1.5 hours). Not such a bad thing considering the sun was shining most of the time, but people did start to get a bit pushy towards the end. The zoom lens took care of the rest 🙂

      You’re on for next year. Anyone willing to hold up a böögg sign is always welcome to hang out with us!

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