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The spring festival Sechseläuten

Updated on November 13, 2023

The Sechseläuten, also known as Sächsilüüte, is a spring festival in Zurich that has been held every spring in the center of Sechseläutenplatz since 1902. At 6 p.m., the snowman, known as the "Böögg," is burned. People gather at Sechseläutenplatz and watch excitedly to see how long it will take for the Böögg, filled with firecrackers, to lose its head. The faster he loses it, the more beautiful the summer is supposed to be afterwards.


The burning of the Böögg has its origin in the so-called Kratzquartier, which is located between Fraumünster and Bürkliplatz. The "Chrätzler-Bueben", the boys of this quarter, burned for centuries several Bööggen at the same time as the Zünfter began their Sechseläuten.


A guild member named Heinrich Cramer integrated the custom of the "Chrätzler-Bueben" into the Sechsläutenfest and organized the first official parade. In 1892, the burning of the Bööggen became an integral part of the Sechseläuten festival. The approximately 3.4 m high Böögg has only appeared in the shape of a snowman since the 20th century. In the past, he was depicted as a frightening figure, a kind of hooded person who frightens children, gets into mischief or roams the streets begging. The name comes from the "six o'clock ringing". In the summer, it was used to mark the end of working hours, while in the winter it was only possible to work until five o'clock because of the light conditions.


But the Böögg is far from being the only interesting attraction at this festival: about 3500 members of guilds in their costumes, traditional costumes and uniforms, more than 350 riders and 50 horse-drawn carts can be seen on this eventful day! The march goes through Bahnhofstrasse and Limmatquai and ends at Sechseläutenplatz near Bellevue.


An interesting extension of this tradition since 1991 is the invitation of other guest cantons. Each year, another canton is invited to Zurich as a guest at the Sechseläuten and presents itself at the Lindenhof with impressive exhibitions, an exciting entertainment program and delicious culinary specialties. The main goal is to pass on knowledge about Switzerland and its cantons.

Evgeniy Timoshenko

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