It’s that time of year again – the time of the Böögg. I cannot believe Tony and I have lived in Zurich long enough to experience 5 of these events. In honor of this, I decided to repost our original experience from April 2013. It is so fun for me to look back and reread our original impressions – hope you enjoy!
Böögg in 2017
The Böögg. Depending on how you say it could sound you like are trying to say “boogar” but get stopped mid-way.
The Böögg is part of the annual Sechseläuten festival, which occurs on the 3rd Monday of every April. More details but can found here on Wikipedia, but high level, there is a parade and it’s a way for all of the different guilds of Zurich to represent, kind of like when I was in junior high and we all had different Starter team jackets – I had the Carolina Panthers because I was clearly a fan at 13.
The burning of the snowman, or Böögg, represents the burning and end of winter. This huge pile of hay is lit on fire and the snowman sits up at the top waiting, just like a witch during the Salem witch trials. Rumor has it, the longer it takes for the snowman’s head to pop, the longer winter will be, but if you listen to some of the other rumors, it means a long and mild summer – you pick, I prefer the latter. (You can see some better pics here or here, I promise I was closer than my camera makes it seem.)
Well, my understanding was that people expected the fire to reach the snowman and his head to blow after 10 minutes. Yesterday, it took about 35. Yikes. I guess that means we are in for an icky summer – I sure hope not!
When we first arrived we were expecting a horrible crowd but it was actually very manageable. Coupled with the standard politeness, Tony and I laughed and thought about all of those horrible trips to the Taste of Chicago. But the crowd kept getting worse and worse the longer the fire burned. As we stood there waiting for the explosion, we got pushed more and more and more….so I guess there ARE rude people in Zurich. They only come out for Sechseläuten apparently.
The snowman still burned painfully slow…and there were little pops that teased the crowd as the fire climbed higher and higher. Even after his whole body was scorched, his head was still in tact. But after he finally blew, quite the cheer arose! Especially from me, I was tired of the elbows in my back.
From there, we and a million other people started towards the bars. There was a small alley section that had a DJ and beers and everyone was standing outside, having a good time, dancing and drinking. I even cheated on my vegetarian diet and had a sausage – I know, horror of horrors. But let me tell you, that thing tasted better than Giordanos pizza.
The fire continued to burn throughout the night and people crowded around with their beers and sausages to welcome the coming of summer. And that was the end of my first Sechseläuten and Böögg. We will see how it goes next year – if the weather was anything like yesterday, it will be just as fantastic.