Monday was Sechseläuten here in Switzerland – specifically, in Zürich. Sechseläuten is an old Spring Festival held every year on the third Monday in April – there’s a colourful and international procession through the town, but the highlight comes at 18.00 with the burning of the Böögg.
The Böögg is a ‘snowman’, filled with firecrackers and placed on top of a large pyre. As the flames creep up the wood and then the Böögg, the firecrackers go off and eventually the head explodes, to much cheering from the crowd.
But that’s not all. The Böögg is also a weather forecaster. The shorter the time it takes from lighting the pyre, to the Böögg’s head exploding, the better the coming summer will be. Around five minutes brings us a lovely hot summer, ten to fifteen minutes means we’re in for a cold and wet one. And this is where the bad news starts…
Monday was not a nice day in Zürich; to say it poured from morning till night would be the understatement of the century. By six o’clock, the pyre was thoroughly soaked; so much so that instead of the usual 40 litres of kerosine used to accelerate the flames, they poured on 100 litres. The pyre was lit and the crowd waited.
Forty-three minutes and thirty-four seconds later, the Böögg’s head exploded – having fallen off a couple of minutes beforehand. We are now ensured snow all summer. Maybe I shouldn’t have had the winter tyres taken off the car last week.
The only ray of hope is, while the Böögg is often very accurate in his summer predictions, he has also been known to be wrong…
Here are a couple of videos of this year’s event. The first is part of the procession:
And a long one – if you skip to 2h.55 that’s when the pyre is lit. The head falls off around 3h.35, and explodes a few minutes later.