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Bööggy wonderland

Exploding snowman predicts Swiss summer

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The faster the Böögg explodes, the hotter the summer will be. (Keystone)

The faster the Böögg explodes, the hotter the summer will be.


The Swiss spring ritual of an exploding snowman effigy has predicted what kind of summer Switzerland will have.

The ‘Böögg’, as he’s called, is placed on top of a giant bonfire in Zurich, while a large crowd waits for the moment his head explodes. This year it took 43 minutes and 34 seconds – a record-breaking and resolutely terrible result for the summer.

The tradition, which takes place annually in April, serves to drive out the winter and hail the spring. It stems from a time when workers in the fields could celebrate the lighter evenings and summer working times.

The longer it takes for the snowman’s head to burst into flames, the worse the summer will be – or so says the legend. The Böögg’s weather predictions haven’t always been completely reliable, however.

The pyre is lit at 6pm. It’s preceded by the Sechseläuten procession, where members of Zurich’s guilds parade through the city on horseback or on foot, often in traditional costumes or throwing out presents into the crowds that line the streets. The guild-members are joined by various celebrities, politicians or well-known personalities from the worlds of music, entertainment or even banking.

"The Credit Suisse boss Tidjane Thiam has arrived in Zurich."

This year around 3,500 members of guilds and prominent guests took part in the parade. Although the rainy weather put off some spectators, many still turned out to watch the spectacle, which is streamed live on television.

It was also the first year in 2016 that the Böögg apprentice, Lukas Meier, made the effigy on his own. He helped and watched long-time Böögg-maker, Heinz Wahrenberger, over the course of seven years to learn how to construct this essential part of the Zurich tradition. The 44-year-old, who trained as a 3D set and decoration designer, started work on the effigy at the start of February. 

You can contact the authors of this article, Jo Fahy on twitter and on Facebook, and Veronica DeVore on twitter.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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