Home News Böögg predicts another poor summer

Böögg predicts another poor summer

Published on 25/04/2022
Written by swissinfo.ch
Published from Swissinfo.ch

The Böögg, an exploding snowman with a famed but erratic ability to predict the weather, has returned to Sechseläutenplatz in central Zurich. Last year the effigy was forced to undertake a pandemic-related outing to a gorge in central Switzerland.

At 6pm on Monday the damp pyre on which the Böögg is positioned was lit. Exactly 37 minutes and 59 seconds later his head exploded, signifying a poor summer – the faster his head goes off, the better the summer. Last year it took just under 13 minutes.

It is the first time since 2019 that the Böögg has exploded in Zurich. In 2020 the whole ceremony, which traces its roots back to 1890, was cancelled, and last year it was held in a gorge, without an audience, in canton Uri. The event was broadcast live on television.

As in pre-Covid times a parade through the city centre was held on Monday with around 130 guests of honour, including Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, and Zurich Mayor Corine Mauch.

Also invited to the procession were around 200 people from Uri who were involved in the Böögg burning last year.

Patchy record

The event takes place in the large Sechseläutenplatz square, attracting thousands of onlookers. It kicks off Zurich’s annual Sechseläuten (“Six Bells”) spring parade.

On the one hand it is based on fire customs linked to the spring equinox, during which boys used to burn home-made straw effigies around the city. It also draws on the tradition of members of guilds regulating working hours by ringing bells.

In recent years, the Böögg has not exactly earned a reputation as a reliable weatherman. Last year the big bang occurred after only 12 minutes and 57 seconds, but instead of a nice, warm summer there were cool temperatures and heavy floods.

The quickest explosion was 5 minutes and 42 seconds in 2003 (that summer saw a heatwave), and the slowest was 43 minutes and 34 seconds in 2017.

“It’s obviously pure chance,” said MeteoSwiss, the Swiss federal meteorology and climatology office.

Statistical analysis “shows no correlation between the burning time of the Böögg and the summer temperature”. It is “a very poor forecaster”, but “the people of Zurich are not prepared to give up on its oracle”, MeteoSwiss said.