Zurich: Böögg Kidnapped – Spring Delayed Forever

Posted on May 4, 2006



 by julie galante
Every April, the citizens of Zurich welcome the end of winter with an elaborate celebration called Sechseläuten.  The festivities include two days of parades, lots of flowers and period dress, and the firey destruction of a snowman-like creature called a Böögg.
Before the burning of the Böögg on Monday afternoon, Zurich’s 26 guilds put on an elaborate parade which wound its way around downtown for hours and hours. The parade primarily consisted of older men dressed up in period dress marching, riding horses, or being carried on various horse-drawn carriages. 

Women aren’t allowed to be members of guilds, so they participate in the festivities by sitting along the parade route with large baskets of flowers. When a man they know/like marches by, the women run up to him, shove flowers in his hand, and collect some cheek kisses, all while disrupting the flow of the parade.
The Swiss apparently have a very different sense of ‘political correctness’ than the Americans, as the parade contained about 100 Swiss dressed up like Bedouins, complete with brown face paint. Do you think that somewhere in the world there are Arabs putting on white face paint, dressing up like Swiss people, and parading through the streets?
Even the Swiss Guard was on hand to march, making me wonder who was left guarding the pope.
After about four hours of parading, it was time for the main event: setting the Böögg on fire. It is believed that the sooner the Böögg’s firework-filled head explodes, the sooner summer will come. This year it took about 10-and-a-half minutes for his head to burst open, which is apparently a pretty good sign for summer.
I’m not sure what it means for the weather prediction, but this year’s Böögg was a stand-in, thrown together at the last minute after the original Böögg was kidnapped out of the garage of its creator last week.  The kidnappers left a chocolate bunny behind along with a note declaring that the Böögg was tired of serving the Capitalists.

In the following days, the police searched in vain for the Böögg. Hostage photos appeared on the internet, but apparently no one was willing to pay enough ransom for the Böögg to get him back in time for him to be ceremoniously burned. Not that I’m condoning Böögg kidnapping, but it’s hard not to be amused by this. Hooray for political protesters with a sense of humor.