The Sechseläuten in Zurich is a great event for thousands of guild members dressed in beautiful costumes, dozens of groups of riders as well as about 30 music bands with shiny instruments in elegant uniforms. There are also many horse drawn carriages which go along the Bahnhofstrasse and the Limmatquai to the Sechseläutenplatz during the Sechseläuten procession. On the Sechseläutenplatz (the six oclock square) the Böögg (the bogey man) is burnt. The «procession of the guilds» is one of the great events of Zurich, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the city of Zurich and an expected television audience of several hundred thousands.
Three customs are melted into the present form of the Sechseläuten:
The spring festival of the guilds The spring festival of the guilds of Zurich has been called «Sechseläuten» for centuries because from the beginning of spring when the day and the night are the same around March 20th the bell on the Grossmünster (the Great Minster) announced the end of the workday at six pm. In the winter people only worked until 5 pm because of the early dusk. The guild members celebrated this happy event, namely the change from the dull wintertime to the light half-year, with food, drink, speeches and mutual visits in their guild rooms.
The processions The two processions, the childrens procession (on Sunday) and the procession of the guilds to the fire (on Monday) developed in the middle of the 19th century. Their present form came into being in the course of the last hundred years. Together with the third custom, the burning of the Böögg (the bogey man), these are the colourful, happy, publicly visible and tangible parts of the festival.
Böögg Böögg is the name of the white straw man, who is burned publicly to symbolically chase away the winter. This heathen spring fire custom which was once very common, was carried into modern times by Zurich boys associations since the reformation. In 1892 it was taken over by the ZZZ (Zentralkomitee der Zünfte Zürichs = Central Committee of the Guilds of Zurich)