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Sechsenläuten Zurich

  • Apr 11, 2011 · 4:00 PM
  • This location is no longer available

Sechseläuten in Zurich (ZH) Zürich  Zurich: Sechseläuten Zürich
Third Monday in April

This Zurich spring custom got its unusual name from the fourteenth century custom of ringing a Grossmünster bell at six o'clock in the evening to proclaim the end of the summer semester working day. The first ringing of the bell provided a good opportunity for a small springtime celebration.

In the 20th century, this and other aspects have evolved into the presentday custom. The prelude is the children's parade on Sunday afternoon, when the children march through the city in historical costumes on loan from the organizing committee, or in imaginative costumes of their own making. The Böögg, a giant snowman made of wadding, accompanies them as a hint of the spectacular proceedings to come the next day.

On Monday afternoon, generally the third Monday in April, the members of all the twentyfive guilds (only men) proceed through the flag bedecked city, wearing historical costumes and accompanied by various bands. Since the year 2000, they are inofficially proceeded by the women's society of the Fraumünster. Until the end of the eighteenth century, the guilds were associations of craftsmen who participated in governing the city. Since then, they have only carried out social functions, of which Sechseläuten is perhaps the most colorful.

At six in the evening, everything converges on Sechseläutenplatz at Bellevue, on the shore of Lake Zurich. There the Böögg, or snowman, symbol of the wintertime of which everyone is weary, awaits his fiery and explosive end. Groups on horseback, representing some of the guilds, gallop around him to the music of the Sechseläuten march, an old hunting march, until the Böögg finally explodes. The quicker his symbolic end occurs, the sooner the long awaited spring comes. In the evening, the guilds visit one another in their guildhouses, where jovial, witty speeches are given. Many of the old guildhouses are located on the banks of the Limmat river, where such visits could previously be made by boat.

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