Sechseläuten: Spring Break Foreverrrr

by joegio


Sure, it’s Tax Day and Patriot’s Day.  I understand that it is also Titanic Remembrance Day, Rubber Eraser Day, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Birthday, and the date that Ray Kroc opened the first (franchised) McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois.  But there is one holiday which sums up the fear of tax day, the national pride of Patriot’s Day, the destruction of Titanic Remembrance Day, the cutesy insignificance of Rubber Eraser Day, the ingenuity of Leonardo Da Vinci, and the cholestorol build-up of McDonald’s…day.  It is also kind of like Groundhog Day if Groundhog Day were AMAZING.  That holiday is Sechseläuten.

Sechseläuten gets its name from the 14th century ringing of the Grossmünster bell, which marked the end of the working day and, on the third Monday in April, the symbolic beginning of spring.   I am not sure how this gives the day its name, but the internet told me so it is true. In order to commemorate this day in a way that the working dudes of Switzerland could get behind, there is a fancy parade for the 26 guilds (formerly labor guilds, now kind of like private clubs.  For men only.) and then they rig a giant snowman effigy (named Böögg, pronounced like “Bogey” or, if you want to be a jerk to your Swiss friends, “Beeroororogorggg”) with EXPLOSIVES, and BLOW!  IT!  UP!

Kind of like how the summer DESTROYS the winter with spring.  Or something.

Tradition holds that if Böögg’s head explodes very quickly after the pyre is lit, then we will have a warm and sunny summer.  If his head just takes too long to explode (bro!) then we’ll have a cool and rainy summer.  Which sounds weird, but then imagine yourself with a beer in your hand watching a giant snowman burn without coming up with rules about head explosion.  It would probably be impossible.

Incidentally, the record is around 5 minutes.

Sechseläuten also includes a children’s event on the Sunday night before, where the children and the Böögg parade through the streets.  And where the cool Swiss parents more than likely call out to their children something like “We’re trying to decide which one of you to burn up tomorrow!  How fast do you think Sven’s head will explode?” and then “Oh no, sweetie, Daddy’s just kidding.  We’re only going to explode the snowman ragdoll, don’t worry!”

Now Sechseläuten is not all fun and games for everyone.  For one, women basically can’t participate in any of the parades (since they aren’t children or men) except for on an “honorary” basis.  Maybe this made sense when the guilds were actually labor guilds and the only laborers were men, but now that the weavers guild is run by a pharmacist, it seems especially arbitrary.   Let’s all hope that someday the women can join the parade for real, and not have to have one an hour before just to get in on the fun.

But if you ask me, this Vin Diesel movie of holidays (explosions, men only) sounds pretty fun.  If nothing else, you can bet that it never starts late.

I think it’s gonna be a warm summer.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What are you going to explode today to portend the coming summer?