Skip to main content

Sechseläuten in Zurich

In a few weeks it's happening again. On Monday April 20th 2019, the inner city of Zurich will be closed off for any traffic for the annual Sechseläuten. What annoys car drivers is the joy of anyone working or going to school in Zurich or a neighboring town since an additional free day is always well received. But what is Sechseläuten and how do the people of Zurich celebrate it?

the Böögg

What is Sechseläuten?

Sechseläuten is a spring holiday unique to the city of Zurich. The rest of Switzerland including most towns and places in the canton of Zurich do not celebrate this holiday and students and workers don't get a day off. 

Sechseläuten takes place in the middle of April and centers around an artificial snowman called the "Böögg" that symbolizes winter. After a procession of all guilds of Zurich (usually in traditional costumes) the parade reaches the Sechseläuten-Platz, located right at the shore of Lake Zurich. This is where the Böögg is burnt on a stake. 

While the horse riders of the different guilds ride around in turns, everyone pays attention to the head of the Böögg which is filled with firecrackers. Time until the head explodes is measured. Popular belief has it, that the faster the Böögg looses its head (e.g. the head explodes with loud boom) the warmer and nicer the following summer shall be.

If you'd like to have your own miniature Sechseläuten, you can buy a Pocket Böögg and time your own summer!

Origins of Sechseläuten

The name Sechseläuten (lit. six o'clock bells) comes from a decision of Zurich's city council in 1925. The bells of Zurich's second largest church the Grossmünster were used to call in quitting time for Zurich's working population for generations. On March 11th 1925 the city council decided to set quitting time for summer at 6 pm and winter quitting time at 5 pm. So the Sechseläuten basically refers to the switch of winter quitting time to summer quitting time.

This years Sechseläuten

This years Sechseläuten procession will start at 15.00 on Bahnhofstrasse and work its way through most of downtown Zurich. If you consider going to watch it, you can find more information about the procession and Sechseläuten 2019 on the Sechseläuten website.

If you plan on going, I recommend you watch the procession in the beginning on Bahnhofstrasse and then head over to the burning of the Böögg after you've seen all the different guilds. Be ready for big crowds though!



Popular posts from this blog

A Typical Swiss Birthday Party

My son and I recently attended a birthday party here in Cocachimba, Peru. It was the birthday of one of the kids in the village and since it's such a small place, almost everyone is invited. To be honest, I don't like going to children's birthday parties - or grown up's birthday parties - because there is usually too much noise and fuss and chaos. My husband usually takes it on himself to accompany our son to these birthdays but this time he was away so I had to step in.

If you've never been to a Peruvian birthday party, let me tell you one thing: it's loud and crowded! There is dancing and food and once in a while people are trying to say something above the deafening noise of the music. I guess, if you grew up with this it's probably normal and enjoyable but for me it was way too much noise. I could see all the children's ear go deaf in my minds eyes. Argh. Probably one of those cultural differences you'll have as a foreigner.
Memories of Birthda…

How to Spot a Swiss Person

As an expat one usually spots fellow expats right away. It's not only the language or the looks of people but rather the little peculiarities of life that seem so normal at home that give us away while abroad. Obviously, it's a cliche that all people from the same place (country, city, continent) behave in the same way and I am far from making that claim. However, growing up in a certain surrounding does rub off on people's behavior and some similarities can certainly be observed.

This is also true for Swiss people. According to the Swiss stereotype, we are a clean, punctual and strictly organized people. However, there are many exceptions like my Swiss friend who is always late or my brother whose room was a total mess while growing up. Yet, although they do not fit the description of a typical Swiss person, they still have some traits that give them away as Swiss. The same is probably true for myself - if I like it or not.
10 Signs you are dealing with a Swiss Person So,…

What I've Written about Swiss German so far

Over the last few years I've written quite a few articles about languages in Switzerland in general with a special focus on Swiss German. Thanks to Google Analytics, I know that many people visit my blog to find out more about this language and maybe even learn a few words or phrases on the way.

Hence, I decided to compile an ordered list of all language related articles of this blog. Hopefully, you'll find it helpful to learn a few new words or find out more about Swiss German.
Overview over all languages of Switzerland:Four Official Languages of Switzerland: German, French, Italian and Rumantsch are the official languages of Switzerland. Different Swiss German Dialects: What are the dialects of German spoken in Switzerland? Great overview with examples for several dialects.Swiss German 101: Short introduction to Swiss German with a basic glossaryOnline Resources for Learners of Swiss German: List with free resources for learning Swiss German over the internetSwiss German Di…