Immolated effigy predicts fine Swiss summer

The Böögg finally gave something for people to cheer. © Keystone / Ennio Leanza

The traditional burning of the Böögg snowman effigy bodes well for a warm, dry summer in Switzerland this year.

This content was published on April 19, 2021 - 18:48

Explosives planted in the Böögg’s head took 12 minutes and 57 seconds to decapitate the stuffed effigy. According to legend, the sooner the head explodes, the better the weather will be. In recent years the head has stayed intact for at least 16 minutes.

Zurich usually plays host to the traditional ceremony, which traces its roots back to 1890. But the Böögg was this year transported to a gorge in the central canton of Uri to dissuade crowds from turning up to watch. Gatherings are strictly limited as the Covid-19 pandemic continues in Switzerland.

The event normally takes place in the large Sechseläutenplatz square in Zurich, attracting thousands of onlookers. It kicks off Zurich’s annual Sechseläuten (“Six Bells”) spring parade each year.

On the one hand it’s based on fire customs linked to the spring equinox, during which boys used to burn self-made straw effigies around the city. It also draws on the tradition of members of guilds regulating working hours by ringing bells in days gone by.

This year, Swiss public television broadcasted the immolation live for people to see. Last year the ceremony was cancelled due to coronavirus.

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