In mid-April, as the weather get warmer and trees burst in blooms, a springtime festival, Sechseläuten, is celebrated in Zurich. It is a beautiful event that attracts tens of thousands spectators and can be visited on private tours of Switzerland.
|Sechseläuten in Zurich|
The festival’s tradition goes back to the 16th century, when the City Council decided that in summer work should stop an hour later than in the winter. The second largest bell rang out at 6.00pm to introduce the new working hours and the beginning of spring for Zurich’s residents. The festival’s name, Sechseläuten, literally means “the six o’clock ringing of the bells”.
In the 19th century the bell ringing was combined with another great tradition that existed in the city, - burning of a snowman-like figure called Böögg to chase winter away.
The festival opens on Sunday afternoon with up to 3,000 children marching through the city dressed in historic costumes.
|Parade of the Guilds|
On Monday afternoon, the Parade of the Guilds takes place with 3,500 members of the various city’s guilds walking through the streets accompanied by 350 horsemen, 50 horse-drawn parade floats and 30 music bands. Until the end of the 18th century, the guilds, associations of craftsmen, played an important role in governing the city, however, nowadays, they mainly carry out social functions.
|Burning of the Böögg|
The climax of the festival is the burning of the Böögg at 6pm on Sechseläutenplatz, on the shore of Lake Zurich. The snowman figure is 3.40m high and is placed on the top of a 10m tall bonfire. The popular believe is that the faster the fire reaches the snowman figure and his head explodes, the hotter the summer will be. If it takes 10-15 minutes for the Böögg to explode, summer will be rainy and cold. Horse riders gallop around the burning snowman, music plays and everyone cheers waiting for the explosion to greet arrival of the spring.
The festival continues with a street feast of grilled sausages and other local delicacies.
Photo via Flickr by: Conrado Plano, Adnan Yahya, Denis De Mesmaeker