What the Sechseläuten Tradition in Zürich is all about

Sechseläuten 2011

Switzerland certainly boasts some bizarre traditions, but one of the most cruel ones has to be the Böögg Bonfire during Sechseläuten (for the Böögg, that is).

Every year, the various guilds from the city of Zürich give back to the community by holding the Sechseläuten parade. During this city-wide holiday, children and adults walk the streets dressed in costumes from back in the day: As bakers, butchers, carpenters, merchants, etc.

Sechseläuten 2011
Sechseläuten 2011
Sechseläuten 2011

To celebrate the coming of spring, a 3.5 m/11 ft tall snowman with an explosive personality is being torched on a huge bonfire.

Symbolizing winter, the Böögg is lit up at the stroke of 6 PM (thus the name "Sechseläuten"). According to local belief, the quicker the snowman's head tumbles and/or explodes, the nicer summer will be.

Sechseläuten 2011

On average since 1991, the torturing of the snowman lasts some 14:30 minutes.

There is certainly a reason why this tradition has been going on for centuries. In 2003, for instance, the Böögg exploded after only 5:42 minutes. That summer, Europe was caught in a record heatwave!

Once the fire has settled down around 10 PM, a more recent tradition takes over: Zürich residents will gather on the Sechseläutenplatz to hold the year's first communal BBQ!

And now, see our first hand impressions of Sechseläuten 2018.

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Dimitri Burkhard

Founder, Editor-in-Chief at Newly Swissed GmbH
As the founder, editor and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of the Swiss Travelwriters Club.

Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.
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