Highchair Travelers: Sechseläuten

Sechelauten featured copy

Do you wanna burn a snowman?

Monday, April 13th is Sechseläuten, a Swiss holiday celebrating the end of winter.

Held in Zurich, the festivities begin with a parade through town which ends in the town square. There, a huge bonfire is prepared, topped with Old Man Winter himself–in this case, a figure of a snowman with a head full of fireworks known as the Böögg.

Parade to the Sechseläuten platz image by Irmgard

Parade to the Sechseläutenplatz
 Photo by Irmgard, 2010

At precisely 6:00 in the evening, as the church bells begin to toll, the bonfire under the Böögg is lit, and the locals wait anxiously to see how quickly the Böögg’s head will explode. A quick explosion means a warm, sunny summer, but a slow burn means uncharacteristic cold.

The Böögg in 2011
Photo from Wikipedia Commons

So, assuming that your neighborhood would frown on exploding snowmen in your front yard, how can you celebrate this delightful holiday? Our solution is to just . . . scale things down a bit.

Our Böögg is made of an old white sock, and he meets his fiery demise on the charcoal grill. If you have a firepit, that would be even more authentic. We do cut out the whole fireworks-stuffed-head part, much to my kids’ disappointment.

Easter and snowmen fire 020

Two snowmen . . . and one snow-squid

Making the Böögg is simple and fun. Just gather some of those socks that have lost their mate in the Dryer Vortex and let the kids see what accessories they can come up with out of scraps of fabric and paper. Stuff him with shredded paper, cotton balls, whatever you have lying around that will burn.

When the time comes (6:00 to be authentic, or whatever works), let your kids set their creation alight and cheer the demise of winter.

ready . . . set . . .

ready . . . set . . .

. . . BURN!

. . . BURN!

Is this snowman sacrifice a little too traumatic for your kids? (or for you?) Did they decide they can’t bear to burn their new friend? Another option is to create snowmen out of marshmallows. I have yet to find a kid who will weep for the loss of a snowman who is destined to become a s’more.

Delicious, delicious Bööggs.  Bööggen?  Hmmmm.  My German is slipping.

Delicious, delicious Bööggs. Or is it Bööggen?
Hmmmm. My German is slipping.

If you build your snowman on a kabob skewer that has been soaked in water overnight, you’ll have time to roast him pretty thoroughly before the stick starts to smoke.

Sorry, sir.  But s'möörggs are just too good to resist.

Sorry about that, Mister Snowman.
But s’möörggs are just too good to resist.

Fröhliche Sechseläuten!


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2 thoughts on “Highchair Travelers: Sechseläuten

  1. Living Outside of the Box

    I came across your great article on ksl.com today (forwarded on to me by family, actually…because we are likewise a traveling family)–and I really enjoyed it. I clicked over and cracked up through this quick post. Thanks for some smiles! My kids would reeeeeeeally enjoy this idea! Haha!

  2. 80 Diapers Post author

    Thanks! This is definitely one of the most popular of the “alternate holidays” our family celebrates. We usually attract neighborhood kids who want to know what we’re doing, so we always make sure to have extra marshmallows . . .

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