Monday, 15 April 2013

Sächsilüüte: a very Zürich festival

Today is the local holiday of Sächsilüüte (six bells) in which the people of Zürich officially celebrate the end of winter. They do this by setting fire to a poor unsuspecting snowman on the top of a large bonfire, in a square specially reserved and named for this. The snowman, or Böögg's head contains explosives and if it blows off quickly then it will be a good summer: if the snowman lingers, so will the cold weather.
Accompanying this spectacle, is a whole day of feasting, associated with the city's thirteen traditional guilds. In the morning, they gather in bars and restaurants close to their Guild Halls and drink beer while the Guild band plays music. In the afternoon, the Guilds process through the city to Sächsilüütawiesä, a large square by the lake for the burning of the Böögg, which starts as the bells of the Grossmünster strike six.
Throughout the day, the city is full of stalls selling swiss sausages (bratwurst, cervelat to name but two), cheeses and cakes and biscuits. The most traditional are salty brezels and sweet Lebchueche (love cakes). These come in the shape of hearts and are inscribed with mottos such as 'Ich ha di gärn' (I love you) or, for those men backward in coming forward 'Du weichei' (you wimp!) Other sweet specialities appear to be nougat and also variations on the fig roll.
Here are some pictures taken this morning while things were getting going.

Building the bonfire under the Böögg

Fresh brezels

Nougat and fig cakes

Lebchueche: 'du weichei', 'meine Prinzessin'

Bergchäs (mountain cheese)
Zouft zur Mäise (wine merchants, saddlers and painters)

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