In Zürich, Switzerland, a giant, exploding snowman called the Böögg predicts Spring.
The Böögg is an 11-foot-tall (3 and 1/2 meters) snowman stuffed with straw, cotton—and dynamite.
The faster the Böögg’s head explodes, the better the upcoming Spring.
The quirky tradition is part of Sechseläuten, an annual spring festival that translates to “the six-o-clock ringing of the bells.”
Back in the 16th century, craftsmen would work in their guilds until sunset (around 5 p.m. during winter).
Things changed during summer, though: With more daylight hours, the workday ended at 6 p.m. instead.
To announce this first day of spring, the city council rang the largest church bells in the town square.
Today, the event includes a parade of the guilds and ends with the burning of the Böögg.
The Fisherman’s Guild used to throw dead fish into the crowds during the processions.
Thankfully, this was stopped in 2016. Now, they throw chocolate fish.
One of the festival’s weirder moments took place in 2006 when a group of “leftwing militants” stole the Böögg out of the builder’s garage, replacing it with a chocolate Easter bunny and a hammer and sickle.
That prompted Heinz Wahrenberger, a bookbinder who assembled the Böögg for 50 years, to come up with a plan B.
He outsmarted any would-be thieves by creating two backup Bööggs.
Böögg B sits on display at the local bank as a prelude to the festival.
If you attend, make sure to bring a sausage.
These days, you can celebrate Spring by grilling your banger in the burning embers of the Böögg.
If you can’t imagine a better way to celebrate Spring, check out more scorching snowmen here.
Or how witches, elixirs, and hedgehogs shaped the American Spring ritual of Groundhog Day.
Update: the 2018 Böögg took a lengthy 20 minutes and 31 seconds for its head to explode.
Not looking good for the Swiss Summer.
Siobhan is a freelance writer, research addict and lover of twisted history. If you like horrible but amazing history, check out her website www.interesly.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/interesly. Or you can reach her through www.siobhanoshea.com.