Today, the Böögg exploded after only 12:54 minutes. Therefore, Zurich’s Sächsilüüte is considered a full success, on par with last year’s, and you people probably don’t have the foggiest what the hells I am talking about. I’ll have to elaborate, then. Here goes:
As in many other European countries, Switzerland features a distinctly pointless spring tradition: the Sächsilüüte (“six o’clock chiming”). A gigantic representation of winter past in the form of a fat white bloke (the Böögg, engl. “booger”) is placed on top of a huge pyre, which is set fire to at the sixth chime of some famous church bells (lüüte and sächsi). The Böögg is also stuffed with explosives. The time elapsing from setting fire to the pyre and the Böögg’s head exploding is supposed to tell you what sort of summer is in for you – the shorter the wait, the more pleasant the summer.
In short: Sumer is icumen in with horses instead of farting bucks.
This endearing tradition reminiscent of 17th century witch executions is accompanied by the top nobs of Zurich, organised in 26 men-only Guilds, holding a parade in colourful tights and tricone hats, gracefully waving at the commoners in the streets. The parade takes some three to four hours, and culminates in the Guilds’ riding in circles around the stake of the Böögg until his shredded remains litter the grounds and they have to stop. Much alcohol is involved, too, and everybody in the greater expansion of Zurich gets half a day off to celebrate this happy occasion.
Needless to say, most younger people don’t give a bugger about tradition and leave Zurich as fast as they can to get drunk elsewhere. Rumours that the Sächsilüüte was the prototype for modern gay pride parades may seem a bit far-fetched, but considering there’s hardly any women around and those fancy pants make the gentry look rather dashing – you get the idea. Have I mentioned they also throw sweets and flowers all over the place?
Anyway. A bloody enormous exploding snow man told me that Switzerland is in for a nice summer, so I won’t argue and just lie back and look forward to June. I wonder whether this means that the rest of Europe will have dreadful weather, Switzerland not being in the EU etc., but unfortunately the meteorological proficiency of burning straw and wood doesn’t seem to reach quite that far.
(Originally published in 2001 or 2002. Can’t bloody remember.)