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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8 replies
  1. Wesley
    Wesley says:

    YES! This year we are going to have a great summer according to the Böögg. I watched it on television and it was a fantastic event in Zürich (next year in Bern). Forecast looks good and we may all expect a warm and good summer. Time was 10:56 which is a good time!

    What is your plan to do in Switzerland in the summer? Don’t hesitate and leave behind a message or leave an article about summer in Switzerland!

    Enjoy summer to you all!!

    Reply
  2. Antonio Tejada
    Antonio Tejada says:

    It’s not called Secheläuten because the bonfire is lit at six, it’s called that because the bells are rung at six (sechse = six, läuten = ringing).

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  2. […] and you’ll see that the Swiss aren’t so perfect after all—in fact, they’re about to burn a snowman at the stake. Writing is like that, too. It’s not just creative ideas and poetic words. It’s a […]

  3. […] is a quintessential tradition in Zürich that takes place every third Sunday and Monday of April. Sechseläuten quite which literally means the "six o'clock ringing of the bells", and the terms goes way back to […]

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  5. […] Sechseläuten is such a simple yet spectacular event. One cannot help but wonder if one could organize a little Sechseläuten in one's own garden, the fire pit or the balcony. One can. All of us can now become summer weather experts in our own backyards – thanks to Pocket Böögg! […]

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