15 April 2007

Children's Parade for Sechseläuten

Part of the fun of living in a new country is watching all the new customs and traditions.

Sechseläuten (Translation: Ringing of the 6 O'Clock Bell) is a long-standing tradition in Zürich. It is a festival that celebrates the end of winter and generally takes place on the third Monday of April, although it may be moved if it conflicts with Easter or the school holidays.

The festival centers around the Böögg, a gigantic snowman-esque figure that represents winter. The traditional Guilds of Zürich first hold a parade. The parade ends in Sechseläutenplatz and guild members on horseback ride around the Böögg, placed on a bonfire in the center of the square. At exactly 6 pm, while the bells of St. Peterskirche ring in the hour, the bonfire is lit. Then everyone waits for the Böögg's head to explode.

How quickly the head explodes is a predictor of the weather for the summer. If it explodes quickly, summer will come quickly and will be very hot. The longer it takes, the shorter and cooler the summer will be. Kind of a violent version of Groundhog Day. Sorta.

The day before the main event is the Children's Parade. Any child aged 12 and under is welcome to march in historic costume. The costumes are from different periods in Switzerland's history, from the medieval age through to the 1950's. In addition, there are costumes that represent cultures from around the world.

Today we went to experience the Children's Parade. Here are my favorite photos...


Un-Swiss Miss said...

How fascinating? So what's the prediction for the weather this summer? We're thinking of moving into our Keller if it gets too hot...

Global Librarian said...

The children's parade is only the precursor. The official one is tomorrow.

I'll let you know tomorrow!