Photo Geoff Pegler
Sechseläuten, Zünfte or Guilds’ Parade, Children’s Parade
Monday 20th April 2020
Traditionally the third Monday of April in Zurich is Sechseläuten and that means a holiday (or at least a half day holiday for most people). This year Sechseläuten will be taking place on Monday 20th April 2020. Many of the streets in central Zurich will be shut to traffic and a festival mood takes over the city.
The Guilds, representing ancient trades and craftmen, will be parading down the streets dressed up in costume, on floats, in horse drawn carriages and even walking with camels… It’s an amazing event full of colour music and merriment so do go and watch this Zurich tradition celebrating the end of Winter and culminating in the burning of the Böögg.
Sechseläuten literally means the ringing of the 6 o’clock bells. The festival dates back to Medieval times when they celebrated the first day of Summer working hours in all the guildhalls in Zurich.
It was stipulated by law that people should work as long as there was daylight – but during the Summer working hours all work inside had to cease when the church bells tolled at six o’clock. Everyone was happy to change over to Summer hours – and what a good excuse for a celebration!
So what is the Böögg and what does it represent? Well the Böögg is rather like a giant snowman and sits about 10m high on a pole on a bonfire stack which is positioned in the middle of Sechseläutenplatz in Bellevue.
The Burning of The Böögg and Weather Predictions
At precisely 6pm on Monday it will be lit and depending on how long it takes to burn it predicts how good (or how bad) the coming Summer will be. The quicker it burns, the better the Summer. According to legend, if it burns in under 6 minutes, it will be a sunny Summer, if it takes between 6 and 10 minutes it will be a cloudy Summer, between 10 and 15 minutes is means a rainy Summer and more than 15 minutes it could actually snow during the Summer!
However, the Böögg is notoriously bad at getting it right, so don’t worry too much if it is a slow burner! It is more likely to mean that the weather was colder or damper prior to burning, and subsequently the stuffing inside the head was slower to ignite.
The Parade of the Guilds
If you’re planning on going down on the Monday the route that the Guilds follow starts in Bahnhofstrasse and goes via Bürkliplatz into Bahnhofstrasse (Contermarsch) along Uraniabrücke and on to Limmatquai finishing at Sechseläutenplatz.
The Kinderumzug on Sunday
If you can’t make Monday then make sure you come along on Sunday instead when the Kinderumzug, or children’s parade takes place. Starting at 2.30pm this is a procession where the children, dressed up in costume parade down the streets and steal the show.
More information and Resources:
Children’s Parade: (Kinderumzug): Sunday at 2.30pm
Guilds Procession: Monday afternoon (half day holiday in Zurich)
Burning of the Böögg: Monday at 6pm at Sechseläutenplatz in Bellevue
*** Future Dates for Sechseläuten ***
Sechseläuten 2021 – will take place on 19th April 2021
For more information on Sechseläuten click here
Or see the video of a previous Sechseläuten celebration in Zurich here:
See our 10 facts about the Böögg and Sechselaeuten here.
Photos by NewInZurich and Geoff Pegler
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